Hoxton. Monday. Twee. Folk. Enchanting. Chumbawamba cover.
The above do not and should not belong in the same sentence. For the benefit of this review, that’s a compromise.
So it is on this languid Monday evening the brother/sister duo continue their steady rise with a jam packed headline show at the Bar & Grill. When we caught them last supporting Findlay Brown, Angus had disembarked from a 24 hour flight from Sydney following a 21st bash. He looked trashed, squinted in the spotlight and mumbled incomprehensibly.
Tonight he’s hiding his model’s face under a hat. He still can’t talk in anything more than a lazy drawl. Julia always appeared the more comfortable, her onstage persona on the more confident side of the wee chanteuse.
With headphones wrapped around you, their EPs are a solacing experience. The show is a dimension away from listening to them on record. Julia’s high notes are like a cat honking on helium balloons. Angus looks at times lost, others visibly distressed.
There are, however, moments of blessed touch. Moments like Mango Tree and Paper Aeroplane, where their complimentary vocals and lo-fi sound can transport you from an East London bar to lying on your back in a long grass field staring at the sky. They were joined briefly by support Paris Motel’s Amy Mae on violin, adding a welcome flourish to the othewise stripped nature of the set.
Watching the show unfold there was a definate sense that the pair are still working on their live show. At times it smacked of such twee hippieness it was irritable – but that’s folk for you.
Their take on Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping was a shock to say the least. Angus donned a trumpet for the first time at a gig while Julia took the lead. They Angus and Julified (c) it no problem, but even if Sinatra sung it, it couldn’t do that song justice – it belongs in the dustbin of the nineties. Still, it was roared on with stern approval.
Give them a year on the road, some time to write and record, and this will be a show not to miss. For now it’s a cobbled path until they reach that point.