Encompass Productions have become synonymous with nurturing home-grown talent. They cut their teeth with The Residency events at the Monkey’s Forehead in Egham with a mixture of live music, stand-up and improvised comedy and DJ sets; all organised to publicise and bankroll their critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe show, What it Feels Like. Having returned from the Festival on a high they are throwing themselves into new projects and, luckily for us, this means more Residencys.
I must admit up front that, in this instance, my integrity is ever so slightly breached. The reason I know so much about Encompass and The Residency is not due to tireless research or excellent general knowledge. I am actually a musician. I’ve performed at five Residencys to date and that included the first music Residency at Mascara Bar in Stoke Newington.
… a Cabaret cat on the wall behind the stage and a Pacman machine…
Mascara Bar is somewhat unassuming as a venue. It’s a little bit kitschy, with a painting of a Cabaret cat on the wall behind the stage and a Pacman machine, but personally that kind of works for me. What’s more, a double jack and coke and a Budweiser came in at under a tenner, so it beats out a lot of London bars as far as I’m concerned. The whole event was led by compere Zuri Warren, who was tirelessly charismatic and managed to get both the audience and the acts at ease.
Now, I failed to mention something fairly crucial: I was actually the opening act and as such when it comes to reviewing I can only give my impressions from the inside looking out. My acoustic covers (accompanied by Lucy Morris on Ukulele and Katie Weeks on guitar) suited the venue quite well and Big Jet Plane by Angus and Julia Stone was a personal highlight, though the audience seemed to really enjoy our rearrangement of Moves Like Jagger, with a member of the audience helpfully supplying some jaunty introductory whistling.
…a testament to the relaxed nature of these events that [the] set took a temporary pause to check the football scores.
I was followed by folk artist and fellow Residency veteran Rosie Vize, with her lovely covers and easy banter, who carried out her set in style. It is a testament to the relaxed nature of these events that her set took a temporary pause to check the football scores.
New to the line-up was Lizzie Fisher, accompanying herself on guitar and again doing a number of covers in her sweet, soaring soprano. She opened the way for the local legend, Vivienne Youel, and her equally legendary band with their predominantly original music. I’ve seen them live several times now and it speaks volumes that I still look forward to their set every single time.
Encompass have more events coming around…
Later sets seemed to be a bit of a family affair with two different acts being made up of sisters. Punk rock outfit Third Conduct played a stripped down set as they were one member down from their usual trio. My biggest highlight of the night was three-piece, Isla, fresh off the release of their first three track EP, Constellations. They played their own songs which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. The vocalist also doubled up on sax and I actually downloaded their EP from iTunes while I was still at the gig.
The event was wound down by the fabulous Del Gentillini and Tom Sochas, both of whom have fantastic live track records. Encompass have more events coming around, from the Christmas Cracker Comedy event on 19 December at The Brownswood, London, their improv nights, “Shoot From the Hip” and more music Residencys in the New Year.