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18: A night of groove, garments and grace with AMBER PROTHERO...

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Here we go, the first gig review on Local & Live Media... and what better way to kick it off than the incredible Amber Prothero, who headlined the Arts Bar Baltic on Friday 10th November!


Nestled between the bright lights of the Liverpool Docks and the shadows of the Anglican Cathedral, you'll find the beaming colours and bustling sounds of Arts Bar Baltic. From DJ sets and jazz trios, every night of the week is a different atmosphere at the crowd-favourite venue, but what ties it all together is it's love for music and the arts. Friday 10th was no exception to this rule, as Amber Prothero, a Chester-born and Manchester-based independent artist, took to the stage; stirring up the perfect concoction of neo-soul, RnB, pop and jazz. You may remember Amber in the Local & Live world as former Track of the Week, winner of 'Best Music Video' at the Love for Music Awards 2022, or perhaps the more recent live session and podcast in collaboration with Arts Bar Hope Street (the sister bar to this gig's happenings) - but today we are delving into the live performance side of her extensive and ever-growing list of talents and wonders. So grab an Arts Bar Lager, put on your favourite flares, and let's relive that Friday feeling...

 

Kickstarting the evening was an entrancing set from Rosie Charles, who's personality shone through almost as much as the beautifully sequinned belt she was fashioning (or maybe just as much, actually). Not only was her belt particularly jazzy, but her songs merged together jazz influences both old and new to craft the beautiful amalgamation of neo-soul and jazz-pop that makes up a lot of Rosie's discography. From the gorgeously stripped back version of her track 'lonely', to covers of timeless classic 'Fly Me to the Moon' and the RnB hit 'Crazy', the vibe of the evening was definitely set at a high level from the very start of this gig in Rosie's performance. With just a guitar to keep her company, she held the neon-lit room in a moment of awe and amazement whilst letting her voice soar over the crowd, a vocal that is arguably even stronger when experiencing it live compared to the studio recordings (a very mean feat to conquer).


After being drawn in by the raw and honest performance of Rosie Charles, headliner Amber Prothero took to the stage in swirls of lilac, boots that were DEFINITELY made for walking (and that's just what they did), and an impressive array of talented musicians to accompany her. Somehow the bright colours of Arts Bar Baltic's stage wall looked even brighter with Amber there, as she soared through an impressive 75 minute set in her natural habitat. With Simon on guitar, Max on keys, and Dave on drums, the modern-day fabulous four treated the enthusiastic audience to the greatest hits and B-side treats of Amber's discography, including 'Mama Jane', 'Giving You All My Love' and 'Midnight in Rome' to start off the set. Dotted in-between the original tunes, covers from Silk Sonic, Justin Timberlake and Angie Stone complimented the infectiously groove-driven vibe that Amber had set, leaving no still body in the crowd. Looking around the room, faces were a mix of pure wonder, happiness, and THAT muso-approving face.


Something that always stands out to me about Amber Prothero and her attitude towards every aspect of her work is how unapologetically independent she is. From being the promoter of the gig, to collaborating with local creatives both on and off stage, she's a true representation of a modern day artist in a brutal industry, proving that all aspects of art can be homegrown and quality level. On stage, Amber even mentioned the importance of supporting independent artists before covering RAYE's 'Worth It', another artist who is passionate about refusing to conform to bigger labels and industry heads. Adding to this, connections to the local scene were mentioned when Amber performed her original tune 'Confident' towards the end of the night, a personal favourite of mine, which was built upon collaboration and belief that anyone can do something if they put their mind to it. The music video for this track was actually filmed just a stones throw away from Arts Bar Baltic, throughout the streets of the creative Baltic Triangle in Liverpool.


After back-to-back bangers in her set, highlighting the extent of which her abilities stretch, Amber closed the night with the heart-warming 'Memories': the 2021 euphoric track of hers that oozes feel-good feeling. Everything from the three-part harmonies, warmth of the guitar tone, rich keys arrangements and undeniable pop drums came together for one final showcase in this track, and the staple French verse answered any questions about Amber being superhuman - turns out she absolutely is.

 

I've seen talks recently of people questioning the Liverpool music scene, asking if it's still as good as it used to be, and wondering 'where do you even go now for good music?'. In response to that I say this - if you look between the cracks in the walls, the doors leading underground, and the distant buzz of crowds, you'll stumble across nights like this that will leave you more confident (no pun intended) in the scene than you ever did before. Sometimes the best gigs come from ones you stumble across, so go out and find your new favourite independent artists and bands - and for the love of God please keep supporting the community so it can grow even further.


by Meg Shaw, Local & Live Media

Review No. 17

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