On a night full of electronic energy, Getintothis’ Chris Burgess finds comfort in Woman’s Hour’s hypnotic sounds.
There are certain gigs where you feel really sorry for the opening act. Chemistry Lane take to the Arts Club stage to an audience of no more than a dozen people, most of whom appeared to be friends and family of the band.
It can be a huge test of a band’s mettle how the react to such situations. Some laugh it off, some show their disappointment and some carry on as though they’re in front of a full venue. We’ve even seen some singers throw hissy fits and slag off the meagre crowd, which seems bizarrely counterproductive.
Luckily the Chester five-piece weren’t fazed at all by this, their sweeping, epic synth sound filling the gaps in the Arts Club’s loft room. Even with a few technical hitches later in their set, their atmospheric brand of slow building tunes energised by singer Simon Jones’ soaring vocals.
Queen Maud are a duo we’ve previously held in high regard at Getintothis, and they didn’t disappoint here tonight. However, we’re aware they’re not to everyone’s tastes – the slower, disparate and stripped beginnings of their set seemed to set many of the crowd aback at first.
With more technology on stage than a typical NASA mission, Queen Maud’s music is almost impossible to pigeonhole. It’s always great to see a band willing to take risks and experiment though, and the stripped-back synths, loops and minimalist percussion, topped with screeching vocals was the highlight of the night, as strange as that looks written down.
Woman’s Hour continued the electronic theme, singer Fiona Jane leading the band onstage, dressed in black. Although the room was still half-empty, those there were soon won over by their swirling melodies.
Opening with Broken Sequence, it’s immediately clear that Woman’s Hour are a band comfortably aware of their own sound, with strong synths and jangly guitar complementing Jane’s confident vocals.
Despite the rather Spinal Tap style mini-pyramids onstage, the set grew more hypnotic song by song, with In Stillness We Remain and Her Ghost setting the scene early on, a comforting sound, especially when compared to the previous act’s dubby darkness.
Just when you think Woman’s Hour are settling themselves into a groove, Devotion turns proceedings more sultry and emotional, albeit rather let down by their synth player lunging and dancing around when all is beautifully still around him.
Then followed To The End, which threatens to remain a rather floaty affair until the layers build up around the vocals and Two Sides of You – a darker, more introspective tune. Reflections, the highlight of their set, was a big, hefty song, rising up to a huge climactic ending.
Soon following that was a deliciously dark and stripped-bare cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, bringing Fiona Jane’s vocals massively to the forefront – another standout moment.
From this peak, however, the set began to wind down, ending with a bit of a whimper. The closing songs Our Love Has No Rhythm and Day That Needs Defending rather taking the wind out of the magnificent sails that had been set.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Mike Sheerin