I'm sitting here lipreading East Enders, always best with the sound turned down. I'm rather tired, but that's OK: I had a late night last night and a full and busy day at work today.
I went to Cargo last night to see Merrill Garbus (the Tuneyards). She has just been signed to 4AD by an ex-student of mine, Jane Abernethy. It is her first proper signing and by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd Jane definitely made a good decision; Jane is a fan of all kinds of music, from Ivor Cutler to Larkin Grimm, and is a very talented songwriter in her own right, which means she knows what's going on in musicworld.
Some years ago, Jane played the singer/songwriter circuit in London (and even toured America squashed into a little car with four other people doing house concerts) under the name Hazey Jane, until a band called The Hazey Janes told her she couldn't be called that any more. Fancy having your identitiy abolished!
Anyway, that's enough rambling and dribbling...
Merrill has an incredible voice which sounds like Jimi Hendrix's guitar in its scope: it's husky one minute and sharp the next, and she can yodel (oh I'm so jealous!!!). At one point an eat-your-heart-out Minnie Riperton high was greeted with a ripple of applause from the crowd.
She plays a tenor ukelele, making it sound like a fuzz guitar, except when she's a finger-pickin' it like a banjo, when it sounds like a banjo. She plays a drum, standing square-on and looking like a drum majorette without the uniform. It's not smartass New York rock, but it is art-rockish, except she herself is a warm-hearted and natural performer with an authentic belief in what she is doing. She's accompanied by a stylishly geeky bass player, who supports her and never upstages her.
The B52s? the Young Marble Giants? It was fun, she's lovely.
On the way home by tube I spotted a poster for the film Micmacs.
'A dazzling entertainment machine', said Le Monde in their review.
That's exactly what I thought of Merrill Garbus!