Alessi’s Ark, Seatbelts, Bill Nickson: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool

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Alessi's Ark

Alessi’s Ark

Alessi’s Ark brought her brand of dreamy pop and tunes from new album, Love is the Currency, to 81 Renshaw and Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody was there to mop it all up.

Alessi’s Ark is the moniker of Alessi Laurent-Marke, chosen as a symbol of inclusivity – a boat where everyone is welcome.

But playing on the same night as LightNight in Liverpool, we did wonder how many would get drawn in for this one given the huge competition around town of things to go and see and do.

Predictably and disappointingly, there weren’t that many there to see opener Bill Nickson do his thing. He reminds us of someone. We’re not quite sure who as we can’t quite put our finger on it. Just as if it’s on the tip of our tongue. Yo La Tengo? Lambchop? Maybe but not exactly. Pavement? Perhaps.

But there’s a kind of lo fi Americana thing going on and it’s cool. It seems to improve each time we’ve seen him – there’s a confidence now that was arguably missing in earlier gigs. And there’s a rather nice niche being carved. It’s just a pity there weren’t more to see his set.

We’ve seen Seatbelts before, too and they impressed right from the off, upping the tempo and drawing in a bigger crowd who were clearly fans already. It’s a tight set from a band who know perfectly well what they are doing and how to do it.

It’s a catchy, classy poppy psych kinda thing. With added cowbells for the last number. But the mostly seated venue wasn’t really doing anybody any favours. ‘You’re a very polite audience’. Well, yeah. We were, mostly, apart from some good natured heckling from the back.

And then a couple of more adventurous souls got fed up with the seats and started dancing. Fair play. This is dancing music. Power to the people. And it was much better for the dancers.

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And then to Alessis’ Ark. ‘Nice one’. she said after the first song. ‘It’s nice to be back in Liverpool‘, she said. ‘Nice one to the other bands who played tonight’, she said. Everything is nice. That’s not us being snarky. It really is nice. We don’t damn with faint praise. It’s nice in a good way. It’s scrambled eggs on toast or chicken curry from the chippy. It’s comfort food.

But there is an edge to it. Especially when the twang of the lead guitar comes to the fore sounding like a slide guitar from a Deep South band. Alessi says she had a walk around the city this afternoon. She heard it was ‘Sound’. She’s right about that, but so was she.

She started off the gig as the singer in a five piece band. As the gig went on the band members gradually bowed out until by about half a dozen songs in we were left with Alessi on her own with a rhythm guitar. It was no less effective.

Although the full band got back together for the last few numbers. Wives, in particular being a really rich, layered piece about how Alessi didn’t much fancy being the wife of a fisherman. Last song Desert is perhaps not surprising as the most upbeat of the lot.

It was an accomplished set. Alessi knows to deal with an audience. She has an excellent voice and a great band. It’s not rocket science, but it’s pretty damn good.

It was a treat to see her playing such a small gig. It won’t be the same next time around.

Images by Getintothis’ Paul Wills

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