A NEAR sold-out Shelley Theatre is a thing of beauty. Intimate and atmospheric, the Bournemouth Folk Club audience listening intently to the line-up of top folk artists.

Acclaimed guitarist and singer-songwriter John Smith was also clearly impressed while making his debut appearance in Bournemouth, telling the crowd, “I didn’t know this theatre was here and I feel like I’m going to be back many times again.”

Though before John’s performance, there was a charming warm-up show from Hattie Briggs. Armed with only a guitar and a beguiling voice, Hattie’s song writing mesmerised the theatre with songs such as Old Eyes and new single, Early Girl.

There was even time for a cherished rendition of Eva Cassidy’s version of Autumn Leaves that brought shivers down the spine. Hattie is a great talent and one to watch out for in the future.

After the interval, John Smith continued to hold the audience’s attention with his clever lyrics intricate, yet delicate guitar playing. But it’s the voice that you remember.

John’s impressive range effortlessly shifts from gravelly gruff to the angelic. With four studio albums, it’s incredible to think that he’s not yet a household name.

It can only be a matter of time and between songs John tells the crowd of how a certain supermarket chain has recently started playing his songs. Tonight’s set-list was mainly drawn from his last two albums Great Lakes and last years’ Headlong.

Not to mention older tracks such as Axe Mountain and several gems from an as yet unrecorded collection of folk songs that included a cover of Willie Moore. John proved to be a funny and compelling host for the evening, which saw the Bournemouth Folk Club treated to two very fine artists.

Thursday night sees more high-quality music at the folk club courtesy of the award-winning, The Furrow Collective.