Record Store Day: Pete & The Pirates, Strange Fruit & Marcus Foster, Rough Trade West, 16 April 2011

It is noon on a vibrant Spring Saturday in Portobello Market. Outside Rough Trade West a queue to buy a selection of special CD and vinyl releases marking Record Store Day is spilling into the streets.

On the pavement a modestly dressed chap with his guitar and a bottle of Ribena begins an emotionally dense acoustic set. He is Marcus Foster, the first act in Rough Trade West’s contribution to Record Store Day, an event set up in 2007 celebrating independently owned record stores across the globe.

In spite of the hustle and bustle of market shoppers, the clanging of steel drummers and the sirens of police cars, the audience is captivated by Foster’s rock/folk/bluesy tones.

Foster is blessed with the gift of a voice one can listen to endlessly: commanding and intense but not overly invasive. His skills as a vocalist are matched by his songwriting: Shadows Of The City could easily fit on a Kings of Leon or David Gray record.

Foster is followed by the debut acoustic performance of jazz/folk/pop rock fusion Strange Fruit, their catchy tunes (including the particularly infectious Doubting Thomas) and lead singer Jenny Maxwell’s crisp yet melodic vocals (resonating Zooey Deschanel) the perfect easy listening for a warm and hazy afternoon.

The big name of the afternoon’s proceedings is Pete And The Pirates. Even the local bobbies and builders are unable to resist a listen to their carefree and unpretentious pop/indie rock.

Despite being the afternoon’s most well-established act, the band are energetic and show no qualms about performing on the pavement unplugged.

By Mona Tabbara

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