Gig Review: ELLIE BLEACH, LUCY LU, ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND & LAUREL @ OLD BLUE LAST 29/01/2019

 

Mark K went to check out the last of DIY magazine’s Hello 2019 gigs. Here’s what he made of it…

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Tonight is the final gig of the four Hello 2019! Shows. The purpose of these nights is to showcase artists that the promoters feel will make waves in 2019. We shall see.

Proceedings kick off with Ellie Bleach who, besides having a wonderfully caustic name, is a purveyor of well-crafted electro-pop. Ellie’s songs have deliciously witty lyrics which she doesn’t so much inhabit as live out in front of us. The songs’ subject matter is American life, Grad School being about how depressing university is for example; on the one hand this provides a degree of 1950s US glamour – on the other it makes the material more marketable over in the US of A.

This is arresting stuff, and if there is any justice in the world, Ellie won’t be playing venues this small for too long.

Next up we have Lucy Lu, who skilfully play jazz-funk like it’s the early 1980s (I could be wrong, but I don’t think that there’s anyone called Lucy in the band). The guitar playing is particularly tasteful, and the brass section take solos rather than just providing background parping. When the guitarist soloed the rhythm did lose its impetus somewhat, but the singing is beyond passionate and the playing is great.

 

Probably the evening’s most ‘indie’ artist is Art School Girlfriend, who play ethereal indie with electro overtones and plaintive vocals. The band have a highly developed sense of dynamics, and the guitarist has obviously been listening to Will Sargeant, which is no bad thing.

If Chvrches ditched the laptops and played real instruments, this is what they would probably sound like.

 

The headline act is Laurel, who is supporting K T Tunstall on her upcoming tour and already looks and behaves like a star: her band is onstage for some minutes before she joins them clutching a Les Paul, which she soon shows she can play pretty impressively. The music is classy MOR inclined rock. The other guitarist, Polly, plays some wonderfully fluid lead on her Stratocaster.

Laurel, by contrast, during the song Sun King delicately finger picks her Les Paul, which isn’t something you see every day.

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So four very different acts, all with their particular proficiency and sound from which to take home something. If we’re talking waves – and just IMHO – Ellie Bleach made the biggest splash. But they’ll all have their fans, and rightly so.

Mark Kelly