Tonight it's the launch party for 'The High And The Mighty' the first single from the much anticipated new album by Rita Lynch. Rita has an impressive pedigree and has been a stalwart of the music scene for many years including a stint with Bristol's legendary art-rockers The Blue Aeroplanes. But tonight is all about Rita. Upon delving into her back catalogue ahead of tonight's gig, it's easy to see where artist's such as PJ Harvey must have been influenced.
This is my first visit to The Exchange, it bears all the trademarks of countless nights of rock 'n' roll excess, and I immediately feel at home. The venue fills quickly with a very diverse range of Bristolians. First up tonight is the brilliantly monikered Commander McNeil who's between song banter could nicely set him up in a second career as a stand-up. It's the perfect way to introduce this pick and mix of the Bristol music scene. The songs are immediate possessing a sunny disposition, it's well worth paying attention to the lyrics as we get a glimpse of the world through the eyes of The Commander. Up next are Jemima Surrender who describe themselves as "Balladic fuzz with hooks and claws" after catching their brief 25 minute set, I would say that sounds about right. A very interesting proposition and one that has more than piqued my curiosity.
Multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd, or as she is better known- She Makes War quickly follows and brings something to the table altogether different. Her style is eclectic and you never quite know what to expect as she glides though her set. There is a disarming fragility to these songs, tempered with something of an edge.
It's just gone 10pm when Rita takes to the stage and oozes the kind of cool that only Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith or the aforementioned Polly Harvey can pull off. Although this is a solo outing, Rita is joined onstage by two 'Aereoplanes' Mike Youe on bass and John Langley on drums. Other members are also spotted in the crowd. Opening with 'Nowhere' which upon first listen evokes Jack White, albeit in a far more dirtier and bluesy kind of way; Rita sets out her stall. But Rita is a far more diverse musician and it's evident as the set progresses. Her songs offer light and shade through the prism of punk, new wave, and folk all encased within short 3 minute bursts of exhilarating passion, energy and rock n roll. The crowd tonight are very vocal in their support, and it would be hard to disagree with them as Rita tears through 'I Will Never Learn' , 'Heart Of God' and a seductive 'Lipsmackin Morphine'.
New single 'The High And The Mighty' is dispatched in fine form as Rita commands the packed room with this spiky, but irresistibly catchy offering. If there is one thing that is evident, it's that they are tight on stage.
The set ends with 'Don't You Dare' all fuzzy guitar juxtaposed with Rita's sublime vocals. In a sea of plastic female pop stars and earnest acoustic balladeers, Rita more than maintains her position as the refreshing alternative.
Bristol did itself proud, and we all won tonight!