Laura Comfort Gig @ Ronnie’s Bar in Soho
Published 30 December 2011
Although not the most informed jazz fan, I always did appreciate live music. So with this in mind, I took up the invitation to spend an evening seeing up-and-coming artists at Ronnie’s Bar – the upstairs room of the legendary jazz club.
I climbed up the dark flight of stairs into the room above the Ronnie Scott’s club, and my mind immediately conjured up images of old style 1950s speak-easys with its late night moody trumpet solos playing to the perpetual “tsk..tsk..tsk” of symbols and an audience sitting in thick low hanging smoke. Once in, the room’s dark red wall paper and black and white photographs of its past luminaries only added to this image.
Thankfully, however, there was no smoke but the intimacy of the performances was maintained by the fact that it was rather a small room tightly packed to the brim (by an interesting mix of city suits and creatives), with only a couple of steps separating the artists and their audience. I remember thinking that should the crowd start to heckle, there really was nowhere for the poor performer to go!
In fact, during the set of up-and-coming singer/song writer Laura Comfort, one particular over-zealous fan, who was standing only 3-4 steps away, took it upon herself to continuously shout and slur drunken terms of endearment at Laura throughout her performance. This culminated in the fan deliberately throwing her drink all over the floor in sheer euphoria. A far cry from the cool-like-Fonzie jazz crowds of yesteryears.
Still, I would imagine Laura Comfort is no stranger to tough situations. A Harvard and LSE graduate, she swapped her successful career as a CNBC financial journalist to live the dream as a performing artist. A remarkable switch which may yet pay off with her first release ‘It Hurts‘, which included a live string quartet (StringFever) during her performance. Think Sheryl Crow mixed with Adele and you have your star. There’s a stream-able music video and full audio tracks from her ‘It Hurts’ album on her site here.
Above all, I was impressed by the way the venue resonated with its rich history. It was said that when Ronnie Scott’s first opened his jazz club in the then gang-ridden streets of 1960s west London, one of the gangs brought over the gift of a bottle of Champaign to symbolise that his venue would be treated a neutral territory for all the different gangs in the area. That bottle is said to be still displayed behind the bar today.