I start this review by holding my hands up and saying I know nothing about indie folk music, which is, I am reliably informed by a certain encyclopedic website, what Charlie Fink is best known for. I have to confess I know of him only through his foray into musical theatre last year with The Lorax. The point is, I entered the theatre last night as someone who was there to see theatre, not someone who wanted to see an indie folk artist sing some songs, and in some ways, it didn’t disappoint.
Cover My Tracks is the music from Charlie Fink’s first solo album but with a story attached. He sings the songs while Jade Anouka tells the story of her relationship with a young musician, struggling to make an impression in a world of technology which brings instant success. As she follows his tracks around the country you couldn’t help but feel involved in the story and I did find myself caring, even if David Greig’s Book was somewhat shallow in places. There were some funny moments, and some touching ones too, but the overall story felt a little flimsy, but then, I suppose, fitting stories around a collection of songs is never easy.
The music itself was what I would describe as pleasant. It was easy to listen to and although I found myself listening to the sounds more than the lyrics, this didn’t hinder my following of the story, and the simplicity of the set and the sparse lighting made the music very atmospheric. My one problem, and again I say this from a theatre perspective, is to me all the songs sounded the same and, with one notable exception, seemed to be general songs of loss and unhappiness. This may work for an indie folk album (I wouldn’t know) but it does become rather repetitive for a theatrical performance. Whilst Charlie Fink is undoubtedly a good songwriter and a singer who sings from the heart, he is not a performer and I felt much more into the story when Jade Anouka was performing her monologues than when he was singing.
I did enjoy this show, it was atmospheric, it was different and the music was easy to listen to, but I think for me the problem is it doesn’t quite know where to fit in. As a theatre fan I felt it lacked depth and that the performance element was average whilst some of the people I spoke to who were there as fans of Charlie Fink felt it wasn’t him performing as himself and so didn’t enjoy it as they would have done if they were just watching him perform without the story. My question, therefore, is who is this aimed at? What is it trying to be? Until it finds the answers it remains in a limbo where everybody has a nice time, but perhaps for most people, it won’t be invoking any stronger feelings than that.
Review by Emily Diver
A night of live music and theatre.
In an interconnected, digital world, what does it take to disappear? Former Noah and the Whale frontman and songwriter Charlie Fink, multi-award-winning playwright David Greig and director Max Webster bring us the tale of an idealistic young songwriter who sets out to write a 21st century pop masterpiece and vanishes without a trace. Might his personal songbook be the key to unlocking the mystery?
Take a look inside the rehearsal room in our new video.
Theatre and music interweave in this unique show, bringing together the experience of a live gig and a modern folk tale.
Cover My Tracks gives you the exclusive chance to see Charlie Fink perform songs from his new solo album of the same title, his first since Noah and the Whale. This will be the only opportunity to watch the show live in London before it embarks on a UK and international tour.
Mon 5 – Sat 17 Jun 2017, 10pm
Running time: 70 minutes with no interval