Posts Tagged ‘Florence & The Machine’

Another year of the Reading & Leeds festival has passed and it’s another year I’m glad I watched from the comfort of my settee. Any twang of envy felt observing the human pyramids is dismissed with the unwelcome memory of wading in human effluent and resorting to rip-off greasy burgers. Now, let’s talk music: who were the Festival Republic stars of 2012 and who deserves to be detained in the Lock Up, key thrown away?

Endeavouring to steer clear of endorsing the same bands, I must nevertheless give nods to Florence and the Machine & The Black Keys. Flo’ flourished in her main stage slot, prancing about the floor as balletic as ever, the day two deluge failing to dampen her spirits. The rabbit-hearted, ex-art school Welch also entertained when giving her security guard the slip.

Meanwhile, Black Keys’ showcased their 7th sleeve El Camino (“the way”) which has helped pave “their route” to mainstream success. Dan Auerbach ground out the bluesy guitars whilst Patrick Carney pounded the percussions like they were bin lids. Such has been the Keys’ parachuting to stardom, teenage girls were spotted wearing self-decorated t-shirts sporting the messages “I’m Howlin’ for You Dan” and “Dan, I’ll be your Next Girl!” The opening two numbers did not disappoint.

As for the headliners? The Cure were a bore – Robert Smith‘s pallid appearance threatening to actually make boys cry…  Kasabian were also something of a mixed bag. Fire caught on but for the most part Meighan and co looked subdued. Fortunate then that Foo Fighters‘ three hour closing stint was a true lesson in rock & roll brilliance.

Lowlight of the week, perhaps, came from the lips of Fearne ‘amazing’ Cotton when she hailed The Hives set in the NME Tent as “so live”. Sometimes it is just better to say nothing. Quite how “so live” distinguishes The Hives from the 200-or-so other, very much live acts performing over the weekend is a mystery! Maybe miming is secretly more widespread at festivals than we are led to believe… The freeze-frame with which The Hives finished mirrored the astonishment on my chops whenJubilee sickbagCotton dropped this latest cherry.

Charlie Jones is a woman on a mission. Since coming 3rd in the BBC’s 2008 singer/songwriter talent contest, the Birmingham-born blonde has adopted a new incarnation at the head of a jangly five-piece Leicester act. Backed by The Martyrs – four well-dressed remnants of the wild Ego Armalade, [link] Charlie is the star attraction tonight dressed in leopard skin.

She ain't no Nash. Classy Charlie and her Martyr mates have plenty to display. Image: The Monograph

The frustration of enduring a 2 hour-long sound check and resorting to overpriced Carling is dispelled when Charlie et al burst into Cherry Picker. Less Western than KT Tunstall’s Black Horse number, it’s as sweet and fruity as the red prune itself.

Further along is Nothing To Display – a strummed melody about a terminally-gloomy friend who, head in hands, has little to offer, like the vacant message on a mobile phone screen.

Jones resents comparison with Kate Nash. “You always get that. They put you next to another girl with a guitar out there don’t they? I do get a bit annoyed by it. But what can you do?” she retorts. True, there is little Mockney about Charlie’s pure vocals. She deserves another award for taming the blokes from the now-extinct Ego, who exhibit no Flying V’s tonight and are on best behaviour.

Our Side, a passionate song about football and love, successfully paints the colours of the beautiful game. “I’ve got my heart in defence, I’ve got you up front” Charlie sings tactically to the derogatorily-named Kaffir’s alpha male audience.

7 Shades oversees a shift in pace from jig to ballad with a melancholic twist, demonstrating the band’s song-crafting versatility.

Queen of Hearts is the highlight: even the laddish Martyrs trade Jacks for Aces. Incorporating whistling and brassy elements, it’s their stand-out song. Charlie is a beacon, shining brighter than the Martyr’s cheap suit and waistcoats combo.

A lingering suspicion is that Charlie could wipe the floor with X-factor, but she has too much class and dignity to file herself alongside the likes of Cher Lloyd.

With Florence & The Machine, Marina & The Diamonds and Esben & The Witch already established, Charlie & The Martyrs face stiff competition from other female-fronted acts, if only in the name stakes.

Surely though it’s only a matter of time before Charlie assumes her title in waiting, the “heroine of Halesowen” in what is her most promising outfit yet.

Review of Charlie & The Martyrs @ Kaffir Inn, Whetstone – 18th November 2011

Myspace here, Monograph interview here.

Two weeks after Lana Del Rey transfixed the British public and watching world with her stunning performance of Video Games, Florence Welch & her musical Machine last night returned to Holland to stake a claim in the plaudits stolen by the New York girl.

Singing What The Water Gave Me and No Light, No Light [below], the ‘lady with the harp’ delivered a near-motionless, typically angelic display. Both tracks are taken from Florence’s peach of a new album Ceremonials which was released on Monday.

See the full programme now (or Later!) at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b016zg5s/Later_Live…_with_Jools_Holland_Series_39_Episode_7/