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Murray A. Lightburn @ Old St Pancras Church (Live Review)

 Murray A. Lightburn

 Old St Pancras Church, London

 Words & Pics by Captain Stavros

Old St Pancras Church is hugely unassuming, situated rather than nestled, by Kings Cross St Pancras station.  In fact, our plus one had to send several texts (two of which included pictures) to confirm it was the right place, citing trepidation about crossing the threshold of a church.  Making our way to our seats in the front row, we swung by the merch table where a mild-mannered Ramona Flowers type was swallowed up inside a book.  Standing politely and answering our questions as we loitered, we couldn’t help but feel a familiarity with someone we’d never met before.  Shrugging off the spookies, we ventured deeper within.  The Church, a structure with a small exterior once inside, opened up its hidden depths to us.  So would, momentarily, Murray A. Lightburn.

23 years ago, nearly to the day, yours truly arrived home quite inebriated around two in the morning and put on the TV at the end of their bed.  During that time, in Canada, MuchMusic would bury its tax funded countrymen’s music to hit its Canadian Music Quotas.  Oh, Canada.  The block was called The Wedge and, in the early ‘00s, it was playing some of the best up-and-coming national artists who would later explode internationally.  It was a very proud and memorable moment in this music fan’s tiny existence, but we digress.  On this particular occasion, one miserable fuck unknown to us at the time as Murray A. Lightburn, walked swigging liquor from a 26’r alongside a motorway in Montreal, mumbling “I hate this miserable fucking video already”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALA8bszA0L0   One man’s trash is another man’s ‘Dumpster Gold’ and in this case we felt we’d hit a musical goldmine.  End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, both album and title track blew us away completely.  We had to special-order the album and pay import CD prices, but it was completely warranted in our opinion.  Two lukewarm albums would follow, each with a few solid tacks, but what we remember as sticking out the most during that time was a) the live performances which were nothing short of stellar, and b) meeting Murray and him being consistently introverted and grouchy with a massive chip on his shoulder.  Never meet your heroes, kids!


With that, let’s time travel back to the present.  We’d long ago lost touch, to our deep regret, with the founding members of The Dears.  We’d somehow grown inexplicably close with them and their music both.  Having left Canada and spent the better part of the last decade floating around the globe aimlessly, tethers soon loosened and were ultimately lost.  Then, as carelessly as we’d drifted away, into our inbox floated Once Upon A Time In Montreal.  Unbeknownst to us, Murray had developed a whole solo career over the last 10 years with three releases in tow.  This evening, Lightburn is flanked by five session musicians and backed by a pointed dress shoe that taps loudly as it keeps the beat.  If you’re familiar with Murray, you’ll know he’s a massive perfectionist.  It is only then that you can hear the strain in each toe tap like the beating of the Tell-tale Heart.  Standing before us in a three-piece suit, with all but the coat tails of a bygone era bandmaster, he tosses strained aural and visual musical cues to the players surrounding him.  It feels strained and a bit uncomfortable to witness, but then, something happens.

Lightburn lightens up.  It sent a ripple of goose pimples across our tender flesh.  To put it bluntly, it was a fucked up and surreal experience, rolled up into a church. Jesus Christ!

 The subtext of the album is definitely about making your case for your own personal growth.” It’s a complex and vulnerable release involving, at various points, communication breakdowns, admitting one’s faults, making amends, and understanding true devotion. While Lightburn notes that Hear Me Out is not wholly autobiographical, it is an ultimately inward-looking experiment that has him contemplating how we treat the people in our lives.

If you didn’t believe in a God beforehand, you’d be hard pressed not to after this event.  A welcome change nonetheless though.  The chilled Murray made his first appearance struggling with clamping a capo, in Chaplinesque fashion, on the fretboard.  “Don’t worry, I’m a professional!”, he cracks.  He went through most of his latest album nailing every track.  Later still, he’d crack a few anecdotes like meeting a proper Londoner in Montreal for the first time, who introduced himself as “London, born and bred”.  Born, and bred, “he said it twice! I think about that often, it gets me every time”.  Before singing a Dears classic, ‘You And I Are A Gang Of Losers’, Lightburn tells us this was the song he’d sooth his wailing newborn in the car with, who’s now all grown up and selling merch by the entrance.  Unreal!  We’d never met Neptune Lightburn but they were instantly recognizable as equal parts Natalia (founding Dears member) and Murray’s partner.

After each track followed an applause louder than the last, drawn out in the hopes of distracting the musician as one does from their set’s end.  We’re soon put at ease when Murray comes back with, “I think I’ve got a few more in the tank”, which was followed by Dears classics ‘Pinned Together, Falling Apart’ and ‘Lights Off’.  Mrs Lightburn is in the audience, and we hear the story of how his parents met, “and if you were born in the ‘60s in London, my mother might’ve delivered you. True story”.  He closes his set with ‘Belleville Blues’ from Hear Me Out; “This song, I sing in the voice of my father”.  Lightburn holds the line, “save me from myself” after dismissing the musicians making up the travelling band, the last word, in the final line before the outro.  The duration of which, the strain on his jawbone and voice is both visibly and sensibly painful to endure, is felt.  It holds unbearable sorrow and peace in equal measure.  That being said, Mr Limelight, was certainly lapping it up like a cat at a saucer of warm milk.  To add to the drama, halfway through the final song the church bells struck the hour, resonating like phantom backup singers.

After the performance, to our shock, Murray all but dove into the crowd and engaged with the audience, greeting his mother, son Apollo, and partner Natalia, before signing autographs and exchanging pleasantries.  His latest work is a masterpiece.  His voice, even after 25+ years of singing professionally, sounds fortified instead of weakened.  We were impressed.  There were two unexpected titbits we neglected to mention earlier but will do so before signing off.  The first was of a heartfelt appreciation of the moment Lightburn found himself in and the pure joy he gets from performing, “This job is a grind, really grinding, but this moment makes it all worthwhile.”  We’d never heard him, but also found it completely refreshing, sounding so appreciative.  Perhaps the most insightful was a moment of enlightenment for all music when Murray explained that, “all of these songs aren’t biographical, they’re sung in the voice of the character. What can I say, I’m a writer, I like to embellish”.


Empty Country @ The Oslo (Live Review)

Empty Country

The Oslo, London

Words & pics by Captain Stavros

What do you think would happen if there was a food processor the size of a room?  I mean, there probably is somewhere, but what about right here, on this page?  Well, prepare to be amazed because there is, without any of the messy clean up either!  What if we told you we were going to take 1992’s Irish export Ash, chuck in a whole heap of American mid ‘90s trio, Ben Folds Five, with a generous helping of none other than the Blue album maestro’s themselves, Weezer?  Will it blend?  It sure will, but will it also be a textureless mass, that’d be an acquired taste for most, you ask?   Also yes! Welcome to our quick and dirty, with a no fuss clean-up, review of Empty Country.

We must’ve been distracted whilst haphazardly listening to the new single ‘David’ from Empty Country II (out now on Tough Love Records), Joseph D'Agostino (Cymbals Eat Guitars) solo project, because we asked to check-out the one-off performance last week at The Oslo.  Taking the stairs two by two, as is our reckless style, we made it to the gig halfway through the opening act’s performance.  The crowd up here, like the air and the music, was pretty thin.  We lingered near the back, catching up with a friend who’d also just come out of Dream Scenario (would recommend) and came with us to catch this show, which, we would not recommend.

Empty Country came on, and although the crowd fattened up, we had lost our appetite for the gig by the third song, whatever it was.  It was the porridge of all gigs, just a bunch of mush without any texture.  One song blended into the other and we couldn't really hear the lyrics (or chose not to) from where we were standing which, at this point, was right at the front.  Halfway through the gig D’Agostino, who was hitting the high notes like…..we don't wanna say eunuch, but think eunuch, but we’re definitely not saying it, got pretty emotional.  Lamenting on, and being appreciative about, where he was in life because a couple of years prior, he didn't know where he would be, he carried on like this for a time, almost completely breaking down.  Listen, don’t get us wrong, appreciation is in our Top Five but pandering to a crowd and reminiscing about the pandemic is a cut we do not need to keep hearing on heavy rotation, jeez Louise already!  It was hard enough to get into the groove when even the band’s feet stayed cemented to the ground as their top halves, semi-deflated, swung around like those dancing used car lot balloon people things.

That being said, the Oslo was pretty full, we’d say almost half full, and is there anything wrong with porridge in the end?  Some people seem to think not.  Sure, you can zhuzh it up with cinnamon, raisins, honey, fruit, you name it, but it's still just porridge in the end.  In the end, for good or ill, no one got hurt.  Is there anything wrong with heading to a failing brewery on a Tuesday night to catch the resident band who just so happens to be the less than hoppy, Coors Light of bands?  We’re looking at you, Empty Country.  If you ask us, maybe.  If you ask your friends and they say, ‘certainly not!’, we will not argue with you.  We might, however, take a rain-check the next time a gig is recommended.






Mannequin Pussy @ The Windmill (Live Review)

Mannequin Pussy

The Windmill, London

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros



In October of this year, Mannequin Pussy posted that a new album, I Got Heaven, would be released in March on their label, Romantic Records.  Heralding the release, a string of North American and European tour dates were announced and are currently being fulfilled.  Missing both their previous stops in London, ‘third time lucky’ would become more than just a mere platitude, it would become a reality.  Our reality.  Sneaking in, just under the wire, we blag our way into night two of two sold out shows for the hardest working band from Philadelphia.

The Windmill’s a standalone pub, in more ways than one.  It lies at the end of a quiet street, in between pools of light about a 20-minute walk from the station (if you’re hoofing it), that you’d never find if you weren’t looking for it.  Known for breaking the best up-and-coming bands (many of which campaigned for funding to keep the lights on during the pandemic, we’re looking at you, Goat Girl), tonight would be no exception.

Gaining and losing members since the band’s foundation, Mannequin Pussy would be playing with five of a like-minded kind this evening.  Through the years, the band would make Rolling Stone’s and Pitchfork’s ‘Best New Music’ and, over the years, go on to release four studio albums alongside four EPs.  Most recently, the band bought back their masters, and founded a label, their trending trajectory clearly on the ascent, with a focus on treating artists (and everyone in between) on it fairly.  Has their slow burn success story found an audience and a must-see live-show that’d match pace?  Well, on that chilly November evening in Brixton, they’d fire 16 shots into the audience, and each of them would hit the mark.

The crowd was made up of everyone; young, old, posh, rough sleepers, humanoids both foreign and domestic.  There was even one woman on crutches who was allowed to keep them behind the bar for the duration of the gig.  The stage, more of an exiled wizard’s lair with tinsel curtains and broken records stapled to the ceiling than a raised performance platform, was soon occupied.  The first thing we noticed was that everyone’s fingernails were vibrantly decorated, but ground down for optimal playing performance, admittedly a weird thing to notice.  Clothing?  Sheer’s the name of the game, or boiler suit delights.

The set opens with ‘Sometimes’, followed by ‘I Got Heaven’ (Marissa half bark/breathes like a pervert throughout it into the mic) from the soon to be released album.  Both will be (and were) full bodied instant hits; a ballsy move setting the tone of the evening.  Fortune does favour the bold, and there would be no shortage of boldness tonight.  Two unheard new cuts were also dropped from the forthcoming album, ‘Of Her’ and ‘Aching’.

The gig was somewhere between a crippling anxiety attack (due in part to a lack of personal space that nobody seemed to mind, and being penned in by a teetering 30 kilo speaker atop a two-meter-tall stand that ALSO nobody seemed to mind) and a jolt one’d get from licking a 9v battery.  Mannequin Pussy played their way through their set the way a local might rip along with zeal down the winding roads of the Dolomites in the dark after a half bottle of fortified Lambrusco, with unheeded confidence.  It was a complex and heady cocktail of mellow, hard, funky, and compelling stoner pysche.

Set highlights everyone got behind were ‘Drunk II’, ‘Control’, ‘Perfect’, ‘Everything’, and the finale ‘Pigs is Pigs’, which was bookended by Marrisa’s “WE DON’T DO ENCORES” and Colins’ feelings about the cops, of which, both statements had their merits.  Shortly before the set came to a close, Marissa pauses, comes to the edge of the stage, and hoarsely speaks in the mic, “you might have come here alone, but you are not alone in this room”.  Everyone, most of all the band, at The Windmill is soaked from head to toe in sweat.  The crowd’s general appearance thanks to the smearing of eyeshadow, mascara and damp hair has taken on the appearance of a gothic water colour phantom.  Keep an eye out for future tour dates, you won’t walk away dry or disappointed.






Will Butler + Sister Squares @ The ICA (Live review)




 Will Butler + Sister Squares

 The ICA, London

Words & pics by Captain Stavros


Once my mother got so angry at me, she threw the stand up am/fm radio with single tape deck I kept next to my bed out my second story window.  As it sailed into the night, arcing in slow motion before my young eyes, then coming crashing down hard with a sickening crunch, my heart leapt into my throat.  Hours passed as I sat, still mourning the loss of my beloved and only connection to the outside world, for we lived at the end of a cul-de-sac in a sleepy part of town, The Suburbs.  I rallied the courage after my parents went to bed and crept out to retrieve what felt like a lost appendage.  Remarkably, after retrieving the unit and plugging it in, it still worked, but differently.  Something must’ve come loose deep in the guts of the fractured receiver because now it played with added fuzz.  Not only that, but it played any song’s bass and percussion more predominantly than that of their counterparts.  Naturally, this being the ‘80s, new wave was in vogue, and I guess the long and short of it is that after hours, days, months and even years of listening to my peculiar radio, I was now primed as a receiver for those elements in music.  Enter Will Butler + Sister Squares.

I had no idea Will even had a side project.  Around mid-summer, Will started leaving a trail of musical breadcrumbs, not directly or literally for that matter, in my inbox around the beginning of a very wet and cold summer in London town.  ‘Willows’ was the first single to whet my appetite. The kick-drum on the track pounded out like an elevated heartbeat and, in turn, raised mine.  I was hooked.  The Weeping Willow also happens to be my favourite tree.  ‘Arrow of Time’ was next and had a sauntering bass beat that lead it.  It’s a song that finds its way into any room, then waits for the sun to go down, and changes tack with a crisp hook full of cymbals forcing you to want to crash the nearest dance floor.  Both will be played this evening with accompanying bandmates, Miles on Will’s left and Jenny, Sara and Julie on his right.  All, except for Miles (who’ll play mostly standing up) dance loosely and naturally.


Will Butler doesn’t shy away from speaking about his time in Arcade Fire, and why should he?  It was a huge part of his life; his family is in the band and, not to mention, it’s still a raging success.  When I first heard Arcade Fire, it was during the wildfire that was the indie wave ripping its way through Canada by way of Montreal.  In the early ‘00s, Montreal was a powerhouse of new bands and music and I can scarcely remember a time I was either more entertained or proud to be Canadian.  Due in part to a myriad of unbelievable life events, I would not get to see Arcade Fire until two years after I unexpectedly dropped roots in London back in 2012.  In 2014, at the height of their popularity, due largely in part to the overwhelming success of The Suburbs and Reflektor albums, every show was sold out months in advance.  I didn’t have much (any) money and I wasn’t writing (if you can even call what this is, that) in those days so I had no hope of even dreaming about getting in to see them.  I still went to Earl’s Court, which called to me like a beacon on that fateful evening of June 6.  As luck would have it, outside of the huge venue, I found a ticket stub that someone must’ve dropped.  It was already torn showing admission which often meant no-re-entry at larger venues, but I thought I tried my luck anyway.  To my great surprise and relief, I managed to gain entry.  I was elated.  Getting in late I was super far from the large stage which took up the central part of the space.  The lights went down and the band came up from beneath the stage on motorized platforms wearing their giant papier mâché heads.  The set aptly started with ‘Reflektor’ and blew the audience away, I could barely see them but still remember the experience vividly. Then, they just stood there, inanimate.  Then, without warning, a huge WOOOSHING sound came from behind me.  There had been a giant fucking curtain setup which dropped and appearing directly behind me stood Arcade Fire in all their glory a mere arm’s length away!  Talk about theatrics.

So, I guess the point I was driving at, in the rather verbose recollection above, is would this also be a theatrical display or would Will shy away from that chapter of his life?  Will came onto the stage wearing a green singlet, black trousers and a classic pair white Oxfords.  He cut a tall, lean, sinewy figure that of Iggy Pop in his prime.  There was not a time where he wasn’t on stage swapping instruments; guitar, bass, keys, singing and kicking high with a reckless abandon one could only dream of.  Sure, there weren’t papier mâché heads, but a different sort of theatrics a-plenty.  Believe me when I say, we were all thoroughly entertained throughout the 16-song set.  The music that evening showcased the dynamic range and colourful vibrancy the new LP throws down.  Will credits his new work’s success in part to bringing in Sister Squares, which includes Will’s wife, and giving them agency during the creative and collaborative process.  It was a set full of textures, pop music, drum beats, and resounding bass that Will describes as “glacially slow with a fucked up colorscape, but with dancey drums.” - Brooklyn.  Agreed.

The set ends with ‘Tall Grass’,  one of my favourites on his new cut. Before they begin to play, Will looks into the crowed, shooting a sideways glance at his bandmates over an exposed shoulder seemingly unaffected by the efforts that’ve led to him covered in a sheen of sweat.  ‘It’s Friday Night’, perhaps a subtle nod to his 2016 solo release sharing the aforementioned namesake, or perhaps his evening was just about to get started.  Will Butler & Sister Squares on Friday evening left a kinetic trail of music in their wake and as they left the stage, they also left behind a satisfied and danced out audience.  It was Friday night alright, as Butler stated but as we filtered out, I couldn’t wait to get home and hit my bed, it’d been a long week.  At the merch stand, I was stopped when my eye caught the t-shirts, and  the beautiful album cover of their latest release. I asked the guy at the stand how he was doing, his final words to me were, ‘it's Friday night man, I'm tired and I want to go to bed’.  True say.  Will Butler and Sister Squares, however, show no signs of slowing down, so we’d recommend catching them during their next batch of tour dates.  It wouldn’t hurt in the interim giving the album a spin either.







Atka @ Studio 9294 (Live Review)


 Studio 9294

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros

Thawing out in a cozy boozer around the corner from the station in Hackney Wick, we marinate whilst a delayed friend makes their way to us.  They’re an hour late, but the time’s spent sipping on a half of Kernel with Elvira’s (Cassandra Peterson) autobiography in hand, Cruelly Yours, in hand (would recommend).  Tonight, we’ll be getting a sneak peak of Atka’s first performance in London.  No fear if you weren’t there, they’ll be back at it on November 28 at The Waiting Room in Stokey.

It’s been five days, we’re told mid-set, since the German-born, London-based artist released their debut EP, The Eye Against the Ashen Sky.  Tonight, through a tangle of wires and kit, a deep drudging bass echoes off the 9294’s spacious warehouse ceilings and walls, reaching down on us like sonic skeletal fingers.  The 30-minute delayed stage time dragged on pre-show but, after a rousing set opener, we felt like we’d been renewed afresh, much like we’d yanked out of a Lazarus’ pit.

“She sounds like an Irish Sinéad O'Connor”, our friend half whisper/screams into our ear.  Atka’s eyes seem to nervously flick about the room fork-tongued like a snake gathering reconnaissance on the space, it came back balmy and steadily rising.  The sieved philosophical lyrics burrowed with a contrasting elegance, while hard and brutish faux-bass clacking out from the keyboards clearing any obstacles in its path.

‘Lenny’, track three, soon came on and our friend bellowed, ‘this is the one he heard online’.  Atka insights on Lenny, “This is a song about how one man’s obsession with finding meaning turns everything around him into a swamp of meaninglessness that also sucks in everyone around him.  It’s witnessing empty repetition right in front of your eyes and the helplessness, all-limbs-dropping-to-the-floor exhaustion felt as a result, when caring for someone who is depressed.  And ultimately, it’s about the absence of being perceived by that person and one’s drift into a ghost-like state.  When no one is watching or sees me – do I even exist?  ‘Lenny’ is about “reverse-paranoia” if you want it.”

‘Child of Rage’, the last song of the evening, is over, along with the set, far too soon.  No encore filled with covers here (Joy Division nor Kraftwerk).  After a succinct set, Atka takes an opportunity to introduce the band; Min (keys), Louie (percussion), and Archie (strings).  Together, they are greater than the sum of their parts and have presented a compelling performance.  Recording their first song at age 10, Atka pours a wealth of experience into a richly dense EP that plays as well live as it does on record.



PJ Harvey @ The Roundhouse (Live Review)

PJ Harvey

The Roundhouse, London

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros


“Stop elbowing me, it's a gig man”; No, this isn’t a cut from PJ Harvey's latest, I Inside The Old Year Dying.  Although, If one does face the unfortunate opportunity to sample it, they’ll likely tell you, it does feel like a sharp elbow being shoved repeatedly into your side at unexpected intervals.  No, instead this a statement from an overzealous fan, throwing their body against us repeatedly as we take notes at night two of two sold out consecutive dates at Camden Town’s Roundhouse.  Earlier in the day, seeing Alison (Mosshart of The Kills) post on her venture to night one of PJ’s gig from a balcony vantage makes for a compelling argument, especially after our incident, that sitting both at height, and far away from crowds at stage level, is the way.  Our exposure to the whims of fanatics, we must admit, fanatical accusations and generally gross behaviour (profuse vomiting) throughout the gig would paint our experience of the evening, ah hindsight!

Catching the snippet from Alison’s feed reminded us that we’d be missing out on the opportunity to review England’s favourite daughter and rock-sician.  We mused on opportunities lost, this being the latest, over a pint of Guiness at The Pineapple when our phone buzzed.  In the final hours of the evening, there’d been a few sudden openings on the list and we were flattered to be called upon to give our two bits worth.  Tipping the last of the black stuff back, we made our way to the venue.  Once inside, we shimmied up to stage right, where we’d settle in for the performance.  Without a support act, PJ took to stage quietly and quiet promptly.

In 2016, we caught PJ at Barcelona’s Primavera, sandwiched in between the likes of LCD Soundsystem (coming out of retirement), Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Tame Impala.  Huge names, to be sure, but this slight figure at a stage so far away from us, had cut into the night with her gleaming saxophone making a HUGE impression on the crowd.  This evening, we were ready for round two, but unfortunately Harvey wouldn’t Let England Shake.  Birds chirping, sounds of the forest, and unseen children’s laughter fell upon us instead.  What in sweet fuck was the meaning of this shit?

Over the next hour, a pastiche of absurdity, and not in that groovy trippy Michel Gondry or Yorgos Lanthimos sort of way, came at us from the stage.  We were thoroughly unprepared for this.  Before recounting the evening’s events, at only just the mention of Harvey, close friends of ours would mention they’re huge fans but her latest was not for them.  The words “confusing” and “she’s gone soft” were descriptors of PJ’s latest works.  On stage, Harvey cut angular poses like an ancient discus thrower gearing up for the toss.  She hadn’t gone soft, in the literal sense, with each pose (imagine interpretive dance) lean muscle and tightened ligaments shone taut, in a sleeveless number sheer from the waist down, at attention and we could say with conviction her vocals were on equal par.  Four songs in though, she still hadn’t picked up an instrument.  The band meanwhile, in what looked like reworked pastel hessian sacks in lieu of clothing, did all the heavy lifting with a mix of strings, percussion, keys and theramin.  Presumably, all these songs were off the new album and went down like a lead balloon.

The shift was palpable when she picked up an acoustic guitar three quarters into the first half of her performance.  Looking back, we thought, did we have a right to feel this way?  I guess the answer is we don’t know.  In our collective defence however, it was with a collective relief seeing the instrument handed over by one of many roadies into Polly’s welcoming hands.  We did in the end, come to watch a gig, not a pantomime of physical dance.  I guess it just wasn't on the agenda and how could it be?  It was tough to digest, like rock soup, and equally as unexpected and unpalpable.  At about the 45-minute mark, Harvey walks off stage as her musicians form up like a maimed group of American Civil War soldiers in a marching band, a confusing spectacle to be sure.  Anyone that’s seen PJ knows she has a flair for pageantry so we stuck out her return to stage purely out of curiosity.  Our curiosity satisfied, but not our imagination, we see Harvey return appearing exactly as she’d left during the first half. Looks, however, can be deceiving.

The lights, now dimmed, draped the Roundhouse in darkness as spotlights beamed down harsh angles at a solitary figure.  With a Gibson Firebird, ‘Man-Size’ rings out into the darkness.  The shift in the audience is palpable in as much as their relief, Harvey was digging into her back catalogue.  Sticking it out had proved worthwhile after all . We were also treated to ‘Down By The Water’, a staple, being sung with unfamiliar playfulness ‘big fish/ little fish/ shhhhhhwiming in the water’, flirty, while maintaining its edge.  In our opinion, when she sang her finale, ‘White Chalk’ and played the zither as her voice howled longingly into the darkness, it was the best performance of the night.  ‘C’mon Billy’ before it also shone bright, Polly killing it on the harmonica.

The set was a journey through Harvey’s musical, and vocal, range and of accomplishment throughout her career.  Not all journeys are what one signs up for though.  The whole production felt like someone had spent a lot of money to make it look like they hadn’t spent any.  It felt like an afterwork yuppie theatre group were dipping their dramatic toes into the world of music, a weird mashup by any standard.  Generally, the feeling was one of tedium and general exhaustion.  It felt to us like the act of 2016, not that long ago by any standards, had gone into retirement but had only recently been reanimated to fulfill some contractual obligation, artificial. 

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