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Common Ground - Anton Arms - Saturday 24th August

This was the first time I had ever seen Common Ground. However, from the crowd’s reaction it was obvious that every performance before was as professional and brilliant as this evening’s was going to be.

Common Ground is a duo made up of Vocalist Kayleigh and acoustic guitarist and vocalist James. They have been performing together for over 4 years. Essentially, The duo play their own interpretations of somewhat less conventional but still well known covers from the last fifty years. This, although true, does not really give an accurate idea of how diverse, appealing and talented they truly are.

Some of us, when considering an acoustic duo or soloist, are reminded of performances which, although often very good, can also be quite sombre or sparse in sound. When I saw Common Ground perform I was astonished by the sound they made. Their voices work beautifully together alongside the particularly creative guitar arrangement to create a full and upbeat sound.

Kayleigh’s intonation in every song was without fault. Her professional training is clear in her inventiveness and tasteful harmonies. Her voice is very versatile. Gentle in Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere and hard-hitting in Texas’ Black Eyed Boy. These are skilfully combined in their version Stand by Me. The vocal is powerful without being overbearing and this upholds the poignancy of Ben E. King’s original 1961 hit. Kayleigh’s pure and fresh vocal compliments James’ rougher, grittier voice. 


James uses lovely chord voicings and different picking techniques to help re–create the original feel and tone of each track. He also uses a lot of harmonics, bending the neck and percussive ideas to emulate drums and add flavour to his arrangements. Notable examples of these were in Fairground Attraction’s Perfect, Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel and Alex Clare’s Too Close. 

What’s great about the duo is that they are both equal on stage. There is no ‘front man.’  They both take on this role and respect each other’s talent and space. They build a comfortable rapport with the audience and, having played together for so long, they really seem to understand one another and have the ability to always be in tune with each other in more ways than one.

Exceptionally talented and charismatic, Common Ground really are the essence of professional, high class entertainment. 


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