REVIEW: Natasha Haws, Sunderland Minster

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AS one of the brightest burgeoning talents of the Sunderland music scene, Natasha Haws’ EP launch at the Sunderland Minster meant very high expectations for the young South Shields singer.

It has been about a year since Haws’ debut on Spark FM and she has come a long, long way in that time.

She told us that she had been picked up from the apparently tragic scene of singing “Cee Lo Green covers” at a local buskers’ night, and finds herself here a year later having sold out her own headline show.

Natasha was supported by fellow Sanddancers Arbeia, followed by a stripped back set from Reckoner.

Both featured big vocals and staggered backings that prepared the crowd for Natasha’s folk stylings.

Haws took to the stage of a candlelit Minster, packed out with eager family, friends and fans.

The 17-year-old showed some signs of nerves, but more of humble gratitude at the huge turnout.

For some songs Natasha was backed up by some familiar local music faces, but in the main she stood alone with her guitar.

She played raw versions of the songs that on the EP have been subject to more production. An emotional Natasha broke down in tears at a few points in her set.

Her song Constant Fairytale is devoted to her epileptic brother (and the night was an opportunity to support of the Great Ormond Street Hospital, in his honour) and at the end of it, her eyes weren’t the only ones streaming.

Despite the emotion in all of her songs, you couldn’t hear a tremor in her voice as she sang.

The night was almost a tragedy with some electrical faults midway through the set.

Thankfully – after some time and many jokes about her being punished for her more ungodly lyrics – these were resolved and a relieved Natasha could continue with her performance.

The poignancy of Natasha’s songs always contrasts with her wry banter between songs.

Her nerves didn’t stop her from cracking sarcastic jokes about her material.

One of the tracks from the EP – Happiness – was introduced with the explanation that it was “about depression.”

Her songs do, despite this have the raw power to move a whole audience with the emotive lyrics and tender vocals.

Natasha tested the waters with some new material, too.

Her song Lucifer’s Wife is more dark and brooding than some of her old tracks. It seems to bring home the Laura Marling comparisons that she is so often prey to, due to the images of religion and clever lyrics.

At such a tender age, the maturity of performance that Natasha Haws delivered was phenomenal. She’s already brilliant. We just need to wait to see what happens when this young starlet goes supernova.