As the opening act for audience favourites Collabro you will always have a hard job of winning over the band’s loyal following, even if you are currently the No.1 selling UK Country Chart act. On paper, Philipa Hanna, seems like an unusual musical fit for the musical theatre/crossover classical singing group.
Hanna is warmly received by the audience and as with any Glasgow crowd, is accompanied with gusto on the many occasions for audience participation, both vocally and percussively.
Hanna is a gifted singer with a crystal clear country voice and her output is very firmly placed in the current pop-country world (she is also a proponent of Contemporary Christian pop). The problem is that while entirely pleasant to the ear, the music is a tad similar-sounding. Another, more concerning aspect of the performance is the highly detailed introductions to the songs. Each appears to have been inspired by the knocks in life that Hanna has experienced and she explains each at length, along with her belief in the support network around her and her faith in God. While, undoubtedly the intention is to inspire – indeed the title of her current album is Come Back Fighting and another song I Am Amazing, unfortunately the audience interaction, coupled with the lengthy interlude to promote the sale of her current album and book, pressed all this reviewers cynicism buttons (indeed, the merchandise plugging was a device used throughout the evening with all acts on the bill trying to sell something). I am a great believer in letting the music do the talking, if it, and you, are good enough, then they alone will win any audience over.
While undoubtedly a talented singer and a competent songwriter, Hanna has huge potential in her chosen genre(s), there are more suitable tours for an artist of this genre. While this will garner her huge exposure on Collabro’s almost sell-out tour, it’s an odd choice and an uncomfortable fit with the acts to come.