Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Helen and the Horns, Katy Carr, Honey Birch: Lexington Review.

So, Sunday night was brilliant.
We started off with a warm-hearted, humorous and powerful set from Honey Birch, who has done very few public gigs. I knew she could be trusted to play a great set after seeing her supporting The Raincoats and Angel Olsen at The Assembly Rooms in Islington, and she was even better on Sunday. Her voice is consistently strong without being overpowering, and she sings songs that reflect her life experience so far, but that still have a resonance for anyone regardless of where they are on life's journey. Every teenager swings between extreme angst and self-assurance, and Honey's art (which is elementary for more experienced performers than her, but rare in someone of her age) is to tap into the angst for the song writing part of her life, and into her self-assurance for the performance. Playing a pink and blue guitar, she defied gender stereotyping and won over not just her friends in the audience, but also those lucky enough to catch her set who had come to see Katy or Helen and the Horns. I was delighted to se her mailing list filling up!

Katy had broken the odds to get back from Poland, and her set was utterly different from Honey's, but just as engaging. On keyboards or ukulele, she brought different parts of Polish history to life without the audience realising just how much they were learning, because of course Katy is a consummate  musician, a multi-instrument playing songwriter whose pop and electronic sensibilities merge perfectly with Polish folk music influences to make a completely unique sound. Her soaring vocals pulled us into the emotional trauma of prisoners of war, and the bear who was a mascot and who drank and smoked along with the soldiers: so many characters populate her songs! Katy has been playing a lot to the Polish community recently, and this night was a chance for her to regain her audience of Londoners (and a couple of chaps from Leicester, but more of that later); in this she succeeded magnificently. Wow.

So our bit: slightly differently, this was a gig of nostalgic pleasure for us (although we played a couple of arrangements of songs from The Sea album in the set). The Horns are sounding really good and I just felt really, really happy to do this gig with them.
Right now, I'm definitely a solo artist; it's what I like best, but there's nothing like being submerged in the sound of this band as a treat from time to time. I could hear people singing along and the music all just flowed: it's funny to be able to remember everything all these years afterwards, and it does seem to be a pity that only alternative people like John Peel and our first record label 'got' what we were doing at the time because our music was so positive. I was really chuffed when Damaged Goods released the compilation a couple of years ago because I don't think there is a band in the world that sounds like us! Sorry to blow our own trumpet (ahem).

The whole idea of this night was to share our music not just between ourselves, but also with our different audiences, and I think this worked incredibly well. The audience was remarkably and unexpectedly star-studded (shouts to Gaye Black, Lester Square, Gina Birch, Ana Da Silva, Karen from the Gymslips, Shanne from the Nipple Erectors, Karina from Mike Flowers Pops, Andy Diagram, Eva Eden and more people who I can't remember, and who I hope won't be Bad Fairies at the Christening in future). And shouts to the two guys who drove down from Leicester and who spent the whole night smiling and loved Honey's and Katy's sets too. I hope you enjoyed your stay in That London and got back home safely. And shouts to everyone else in the audience, of course, and the poor people who got stuck on public transport, my student who came to sell the CDS, and the crew at the Lexington (what a place!) and especially to Delia, who is an amazing woman.

I missed the last train home, even after belting up Pentonville Road with the Green Goddess on my back, a bag of vinyl and my holdall. I caught a bus in the end and chatted to Roger from Forbes, and then on the next bus, to a homeless man called Trevor. I got home very late.

Thank you everybody,

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