Having already seen James Mitchell, my old friend from the ACM, I was really excited to see him back again, but this time with his duet partner, Kayleigh Burton. Together they make Common Ground, which they call themselves because of their common interest in, and sheer love of, music.
They started with ‘Ho Hey’ and this immediately exhibited their skill as a duet. They were both chanting the ‘Ho’ and ‘Hey’s, while James created the drumbeat with the skill of a master, rhythmically beating the body of his guitar in perfect time. From start to finish he used excellent inversions on the guitar, which succeeded in bringing together the melody and rhythm sections of the songs they performed.
Kayleigh’s voice leaps into the microphone and out of the PA system like a leopard hunting down your ears. James’ voice adds the bass balance, and together, along with interesting inversions and clever percussive techniques, they turn each song into a visceral journey. As I’m sure you can appreciate, when you’re a two piece, it’s hard to imply songs; so when you can recognise a song from a just a few vocal notes and simple rhythm, you know that they’re in a league of their own. They did this with ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ by Michael Jackson, and continued to do it justice all the way through. They employed dynamic techniques, such as localising just the voices with no music, and slowly bringing the music back.
Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ was another example of dynamic excellence. They combined excellent harmonies during the chorus and a very cheeky, high-pitched, clicking beat on the body of the guitar.
They performed Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ and James made a few amusing links between it and ‘Bah Bah Black Sheep’. It made everyone laugh and served only to endear the crowd. With clever segues in and out as a running theme, it was made not only humorous, but also exceptional. There is a section in their performance of this song that you have to see to believe, as my words will never do it justice, but they both move into falsetto and exude the most amazing harmony, which sits hauntingly like a ghost. They are very clearly well rehearsed.
‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz was brilliant with James and Kayleigh really intertwining their voices with wonderful hamonies. It was brought to life with a very steady bass beat on the 1 and 3 of every bar, driving a very strong constant rhythm, locking everyone into the song.
Before the final medley, they performed ‘Know You Better’. Well they performed it with brilliance and grace and honesty. There was a very clever crescendo from start to finish which subtly worked everyone up for the final song.
Before they played it, we were asked to see how many song we could guess and, although I mean to make a point of asking, I didn’t. So here goes. I got this many: You Got the Love, We Found Love, Next to Me, Show Me Love, You Sure Make Me Feel Like Loving You and Lady.
I have to be honest, I’m not sure I correctly named all the songs, and I’m almost positive I didn’t list them all, but I did recognise them. So, onto the important bit! They used We Found Love as a returning theme, bringing it back in different mediums, sometimes loud, sometime with just chords, sometimes melodic, sometimes rhythmic. The joins between every song were seamless and using every bit of the guitar and every bit of their voices, they pulled out a killer performance!
You can view their website here: http://www.commongroundduo.co.uk
As an aside, I would like to mention that James does his clothes shopping in Tescos and Burtons and today was sporting a rather fashionable jumper from Florence and Fred, while Kayleigh is a frequenter of New Look.