My horizons continue to expand to new venues, for me, anyway. In the past couple of years, since I returned to London, I’ve been to most of the smaller venues on the northern side now, and this gig took me to The Lexington, an Islington venue that is rather better than I thought it might be. Well laid out, with a great sound set-up too, it was certainly an enjoyable place to see live music.
Obviously, though, enjoying live music very much depends on the quality on offer. And at least for the support acts on Friday evening, it was something of a mixed bag.
First band up, I Am Harlequin, appear to have gained an awful lot of media attention and placement, so it was a little surprising to find them third on the bill. Unquestionably Anne Freier’s act, with a band assisting her, it was a curious mix of stylings, with indie, dance and more avant-garde elements there, but the most notable thing was her extraordinary, unusual vocal style, stretching out words and syllables, and sounding a bit like both Tori Amos and Kate Bush at points. Later in the set, mind, she sounded more like Florence (and the Machine), which is really not a good thing in my book. My main problem with the set, though, was that of the six or so songs, five of them started the same way – Anne on her own, vocals and keyboard, before the rest of the band kicked in. Really, tricks like that shouldn’t be overused, the set became too predictable. There is some good stuff here, but generally it was a little inconsistent.
I was much less keen on Madam, whose grating, knowing folky tunes had me grinding my teeth within the first song. I didn’t stick around for much more of the set, and I’ll be passing on them in the future.
So thank any relevant deity for Rebekah Delgado, who was quite wonderful, and vastly better than both of the support acts. I must confess that before the gig, I’d heard very little of her music, although was well aware of her, thanks to knowing the female member of the “Drunk Choir” (backing vocalists) very well. So I thought I’d come along to the show, and I’m glad that I did.
The first breath of fresh air is that frankly, she is nowhere near as insular as so many other artists to have emerged from the Camden area, no British flag waving, no suggestion of purely British influences from the past. A point rammed home by the opening song being in at least three languages (I think I heard lyrics in both spanish and french, in addition to english), and helpfully some subtitles (on cards!) were supplied.
The string-accompanied songs are dramatic, and, it must be said, kinda slinky. Rebekah has looks that could be described as “elfin”, and a gorgeous, smoky voice that lends an air of sensuality to songs that some other artists try hard to do and consistently fail. Some songs are rather more overt with this than others (MÃ©nage a Moi, the next single, apparently, does this very well) than others, but those that hold something back, like the quite gloriously dark Lamentine, are just as great.
This show was a launch gig for her first EP, Sing You Through The Storm, and the title track from the EP ended the set. And I have to say, that it was for me the weakest song on show. Where she leaves behind the dark rooms and torch songs, and goes for a slow-burning anthem, that to me sounded a teeny bit contrived. It will certainly – or certainly should do – garner more attention to her work, and if it does that, fair enough, but I prefer the rest of the material on show.
Still, in these days where even the average singer is lauded and sell loads of records, Rebekah should be a shoo-in for success at some level. That’s the hope, anyway – with a calibre of songs like this, the wider world is utterly clueless if they don’t pick up on it.
Rebekah Delgado’s Sing You Through The Storm EP is out on 26-March