Live Review: Rachel Croft at The Crescent

Rachel Croft is a such an enduring proponent of the York music scene, it’s easy to feel that you’ve got a good grip on her style of music. Last night at the Crescent, though, she was out to surprise a few.

Review and Photos by Graeme Smith

When I spoke to Rachel as part of our The 5 Albums You’ll Hear In Heaven podcast, she gave me a taste of what to expect. It seemed she had emerged from lockdown a different musician from where she started – one which audiences knew as a solo folk singer songwriter, often seen busking on the streets of York, mixing in a Joni Mitchell cover with her own tunes. That’s not what the audience was treated to last night.

But, before Rachel would take to the stage, the crowd were warmed up by Kell Chambers. The local singer songwriter was accompanied by drums and electric guitar creating a blues-folk sound in the vein of Dylan. With solid melodies, emotive vocals and a healthy dose of experimental percussion and guitar-noodling, it was a great way to start the evening.

Then it was time for the main event. Rachel took the stage, clad in orange and with her band in tow, presenting altogether rockier than her previous image. The night was to celebrate the release of her new EP Reap What You Sow, a product of lockdown and the result of Rachel letting her personal tastes drive her own music a little more.

I have to say the style works well for her. She was clearly having a lot of fun during the livelier tracks, jumping, head-banging and gesticulating. There was time for a couple of acoustic movements and even a little “Yorkshire Americana” through her new track Hurricane, but the evening was mostly one of blues rock.

Rachel even treated us to a cover of one of her favourite tracks (and a pick in the aforementioned podcast) – Skinny by Icelandic rockers Kaleo. It was clear she enjoyed playing it as much as the audience enjoyed hearing it.

She couldn’t end her EP launch with anything other than the record’s final track Dead Horse. An audience favourite and a cathartic piece for Rachel herself, she and her band finished strong. What a night!

Kell Chambers and Rachel Croft + Band played at The Crescent on Sunday 27 September 2021.