AN INTIMATE setting is really the only way to appreciate acoustic music. Husband and wife Brooklyn and Ruth Dekker, aka Rue Royale, would struggle to connect in an arena setting.

If York has such a thing as a folk scene, then house concerts would be squarely in the middle, with a respectful roomful of devotees soaking up the atmosphere.

York St John music graduate Holly Tamar, with multi-instrumentalist and co-conspirator Carl Hetherington, set the tone with a well-judged performance, let down only by workmanlike lyrics that dwelled too long in the humdrum of everyday life.

With him on acoustic guitar and kick drum, and her on keyboard and xylophone, it is the combination of voices that gave Rue Royale their edge. At best, the pair’s music is built on a repetition of telling phrases and a gradual ramping up of intensity.

While the Dekkers joked about tinkering with the set list, in truth, their songs were almost interchangeable, so the order was irrelevant. The new songs from their sophomore album Guide To An Escape did show a subtle refinement of the formula, with the choruses more adept, and the interplay between the two voices more subtle and intriguing.

Halfway Blind, the current single, picked up by BBC Six Music no less, had a rare sense of drama.

For the most part though it was a rather bloodless performance, with only UFO showing visible passion. While Ruth showed all the spark and wit, Brooklyn was a reserved frontman and no great shakes as singer. The end result, while proficient, lacked star quality.