17th Feb 2013
Elizabeth McGoven is a dark horse. Not only is she an amazingly gifted actor with pathos and subtly to her performances, she is also a musician, writer and singer to boot!
She has been playing guitar for many years and has turned up on many a film set with her guitar in hand. Anyone who's ever been on a set will tell you that there is plenty of sitting around to be done and McGovern has used her time to strum away and play some music. Song writing has become a hobby of hers over the years, but really took on a new level when she met virtuoso guitarist, Steve Nelson. Their weekly guitar practice soon turned into song writing sessions, and as the title of one of McGovern's song says, one thing lead to another, and Sadie and The Hotheads was formed.
The Hotheads took to the stage first playing a raunchy Cajun reprise of One Thing, before Elizabeth made her sultry entrance onto the Union Chapel stage and picked up her guitar. She has as much poise and presence on stage as she does on screen and is able to hold an audience. She appears totally at ease within that environment. If she was nervous it didn’t show.
For Elizabeth, her song writing and music are a labour of love rather than a deliberate move towards forging a second career. This comes across in her song writing and performance. She is clearly enjoying her work as much as the audience is responding to it. Her songs are fun (How Not to Lose Things has the audience cracking a smile), honest, witty and refreshingly different. They are ethereal and dreamlike as if she is turning her musical stories into something cinematic (the wacky audience favourite The Cow Song is very suggestive of this.) Highly appropriate for somebody who has spent their career in front of a camera! She even looks back at her
home town in the song LA Days which has a Neil Diamond feel to it.
Her singing voice is not strong, but soft, beguiling and natural. As with all great screen actors, McGovern can impart meaning and humour with a simple raised eyebrow or wry smile. This injects the evening with a cabaret feel; especially when she puts down her guitar for the jazzy My Debt Collector, which should have had Elizabeth swooning over a piano, were it not for lack of space at the Chapel. Her voice is at its best when she is being raspy, sexy and low; Singing songs like the bluesy Superficial and the catchy and gloating song Old Boyfriends, which is reminiscent of the jazz standard Fever. Having written a song about former beaus, she sang about her love for her husband, director Simon Curtis (who was in the audience) with the tender and heartfelt All The Time.
The Hotheads are comprised of the Nelson Brothers, Simon – on
electric guitar and dobro and Steve on acoustic guitar, bauzouki and
banjo, Ron Knights on bass, Nick Lacey on keyboards, Teri Bryant on
drums and Philly Lopez, a very talented backing singer who has also
played with Stevie Wonder. They are a great band and exceptional
musicians who bring McGovern’s lyrics and music to life with
everything from the Country to folk and jazz, with a spice of
Americana and Cajun and even a sprinkling of Pink Floyd in the guitar solo of Use It Up, which is a great atmospheric song to bring the evening to a close.
Despite their current tour sadly being cut short due to McGovern’s
filming commitments on Downton Abbey, Sadie and the Hotheads are an entertaining, fun and very tight band. With the captivating Elizabeth McGovern as their front-lady, hopefully we will see more of them in the future.