Home Music Live Reviews Live Review – Hidden Charms & Ailsa Tulley 27/1/15

Live Review – Hidden Charms & Ailsa Tulley 27/1/15


Anam Zafar picks apart Mahatma Music’s return to Cavern and gives it the thumbs up.


This Tuesday (28th January) saw the return of Mahatma Music to the Cavern, with their first show of the year. On the bill were singer-songwriter Ailsa Tulley and London band Hidden Charms, who were a last-minute addition as original headliners Twin Wild had to pull out at the last minute.  Although advance ticket holders may have been slightly thrown off to not be seeing who they were expecting to see, Hidden Charms were a worthy replacement as the whole crowd seemed to love them.

More on that later, though- first up was Ailsa Tulley. The phrase “singer-songwriter” automatically puts the image of an acoustic guitar in my head but, surprisingly, Ailsa Tulley’s choice of instrument was an electric cello. Mixed with her soft, floating vocals and unusual melodies that often took unexpected turns, I can safely say that I have never seen an act like her. She gave a short explanation of what had inspired her to write each song and it was refreshing to know that they weren’t all about love and relationships. It was a pleasant surprise to see an act like this in the Cavern and it is a shame that more people didn’t arrive early enough to see her.

The venue had filled up much more by the time Hidden Charms took to the stage and by the second song the majority of the room was dancing – not moshing or jumping but really dancing. Hidden Charms are a four-piece very much inspired by the 60s and their funky riffs, good vibe-inducing chord progressions and impeccable vocal harmonies were enough to get anyone’s feet tapping at the least. What was interesting was that there were two guitars and a bass which the members of the band, excluding the drummer, kept swapping with each other, meaning that their roles were different for different songs. I had never seen a band showing flexibility like this before and thought that it was great that the guys weren’t tied down to one instrument and one role.



As well as the songs being executed almost perfectly, the sound quality during the set was incredible and I kept thinking that they could have recorded a couple of live tracks for an EP right there and then. The room had such a feel-good atmosphere right from the start of the band’s set and they were visibly happy at the fact that big cheers erupted from the audience at the end of every song. I even think that were was a proper encore, as in one that wasn’t planned beforehand like so many encores are these days.

It was Hidden Charms’ first time playing in Exeter and I hope that the audience’s reaction will get them to consider coming back here one day. I really enjoyed the show and would definitely see the band again if they were to return. Mahatma Music’s relaunch may have got off to a shaky start with the headline band having to be changed, but it all worked out great in the end.


Anam Zafar


(Featured Image Credits: Christopher Lopez)

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