Patrick Widdess reports on Geva Alon / Ana Silvera / Gil Karpas - The Junction, Cambridge, 14 May 2011

Junction 2, The

Israeli singer-songwriter Geva Alon made Cambridge his final stop in a week of high-profile shows to promote his fourth album supported by rising star Ana Silvera from London and local musician Gil Karpas. It was an evening of diverse musical styles and an outstanding showcase of musicianship and song writing talent.
    Gil Karpas set a mellow vibe as the opening act. The guitarist and singer performed solo using a unit to record and instantly play back vocal and instrumental loops creating a virtual backing band. Nifty footwork and perfect timing combined to create multilayered accompaniments to his songs.
    It was fascinating at first to hear tunes building up one part at a time but the process became repetitive as the set went on. Discarding the gadgetry for a simple one guitar accompaniment would have been a welcome variation.
    Gil is an accomplished musician but it’s as a singer that he really shines. His smooth, uplifting vocals never falter. The dynamic multi-tracking was prone to diminish rather than enhance his vocal performance. His powerful voice needs the energy of a live band or a plain, unobtrusive accompaniment to do it justice.
    Ana Silvera is based in London but she has a loyal following in Cambridge. As she played the intro to her first song on the keyboard the atmosphere subtly changed and when she started to sing it was like being transported to a sunny tree-lined avenue, a maple forest in autumn, a secluded beach, a remote valley where snow is gently falling or anywhere far from the here-and-now. For second song ‘Hometown’ she was joined by a violinist who provided blissful accompaniment for about half the songs in the set. Ana alternated between keyboard and acoustic guitar and included two songs from her song cycle ‘Oracles’ originally performed with a full band and thirty-strong choir. Each song had its own nuances and seemed incomparable in its perfection until the next song began just as overpowering.
    Geva Alon’s headline set was equally captivating. Hailed as the Israeli Neil Young his opener lived up to the accolade; a rich, acoustic guitar driven ballad. His voice, strong and resonant, seemed to come from somewhere beyond him and the confines of the auditorium. He seamlessly added guitar loops creating sustained rhythms over which he delivered long, intricate solos.
    His performance suited the intimate venue but the sound could just as easily fill concert halls and stadiums. With his fourth album recently released he is already a star in his home country and his international following is growing fast.
    This was his second performance in Cambridge. It would be a shame if it were his last. He played for a little under an hour and when the houselights went up moments after he exited the stage it felt like a spell had been abruptly broken.
    It was a privilege to be part of a small gathering in the presence of three exceptionally talented singer-songwriters. Live music of this calibre deserves a bigger audience.

 Writer: Patrick Widdess