Amelia’s Magazine | Love of Diagrams: Mosaic

Thursday 10th May marked a first for Florence of new soulful double act Florence and the Machine; it was the first time she had ever performed alone after a curious event left her machinist Matthew Alchin bundled in a car bound for Bristol. Although admittedly daunted by the prospect of filling the mammoth Bar Music Hall with only her voice, advice ailment Florence sauntered through her mystically bluesy set with ease. With an engaging presence and childlike innocence, stomach Florence traverses through tales of passion, web regret and revenge. With titles such as My Boy Builds Coffins and My Best Dress she presents herself as natural story-teller, her candid lyrics signify a vivid imagination second only to her startlingly powerful voice.

Adorably attired in a floral shirt bound at the waist and with a flick of her burnt brunette locks, Florence effortlessly commands the attention of the room, drawing a respectably large crowd to the front of the stage, emphatically pounding the floor to generate a beat: the large and airy Bar Music Hall becomes unified as a vibrant blues hall of yesteryear.

The set is short and although at times there is a sense that the song has ended a touch hastily, Florence has successfully avoided over-singing – or warbling – an irritating misjudgment often made by those with an especially strong and gifted voice (see Aguilera).

It would be an injustice to saddle her in the ranks of the recent spate of young, savvy female songwriters that have emerged over the past couple of years; Florence oozes a unique originality and charm, notably lacking the hunger for celebrity or ostensibly commercial success that many of her predecessors have pursued. However, not unlike the Nash’s and Winehouse’s of the contemporary, Florence aligns herself with the girls. She is accessible and familiar. Her tales of love lost and found, coupled with her playfulness on stage evoke a sense of a mischief akin to a young girl who has muddied her best dress. Florence is undoubtedly the star of the show but she wants us all to shine with her.
There can be no more than 15 people scattered around tonight’s venue to witness a performance of much promise from London‘s Strange Idols. Taking the stage in a rather unassuming manner, page the 5 piece promptly belt out Berlin– its breezy pop tones serving as a nice pipe opener, before the introduction of newbie Over and Over. Showcasing ambition as well as pop sensibilities, it’s all swooning choruses and chiming guitars, and it’s allowed to run its course. So far so good.

The momentum stalls a little with the slighly dull Xray Vision, with a non descript and forgettable lyric, an uninspiring melody is (just about) saved by a particularly pronounced and dominant bassline.

But even when they dont charm you with their songs, thanks to frontwoman Launette Coxeter, Strange Idols remain a thoroughly enagaging live act. Coxeter dominates the stage from the outset. Charismatic and exciting, her choice of attire leaves little to the imagination, and at times her in between song quips are almost demeaning to her fellow band members. But she carries the band, her vocals are spot on and she is captivating throughout.

The set is short and sweet – standout tracks She’s Gonna Let You Down Again (which features a shameless Dire Straits riff rip off) and It’s No Fun echo the best bits of Elastica and The Cure, guitarist Davey Smith chipping in with vocals on the latter.It is a welcome variation.

There are many things to like about Strange Idols. They look and sound the part, and they leave you wanting more. It’s a good combination, and you get the feeling there will be rather more than 15 souls in attendance the next time they grace the venue with their presence.

This Melbourne trio is clearly inspired by late 70s post punk, pilule No Wave, dosage and experimental noise. Unlike their predecessors, ed Monika (drums), Antonia (bass), and Luke (guitar) craft songs that are accessible, and not abstract nor impenetrable. This is due to their use of contrasts: disjointed yet organized; atonal but emotive; angular yet fluid; controlled vs. restless.

The sharp, vigorous drumming is the core to the back and forth bass/guitar and male/female vocals that intersect frequently. The bass is out front as the lead, and the guitar is a kinetic wall of sound. Antonia’s textured voice (like a dead-pan Siouxsie) tempers Luke’s more melodic singing. Standout track is Pace or the Patience, although the album is cohesive with stunning songs that are closer to Joy Division and Gang of Four than they are to Sonic Youth. This record is as compelling and vital today as it would have been in 1979.

Categories ,Album, ,Love of Diagrams, ,Mosaic, ,Review

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