Lisa Lindley-Jones and her band open the show tonight. She has an interesting look waif-like in her Elizabethan ruff, with gothic eye make-up and strange markings on her hands. The band includes an accordion which gives a French café feel to some of the songs. Lisa has a lovely ethereal voice and performs an interesting slow cover of Talking Heads Road to Nowhere, as well as some strong songs of her own including The Killing Song, One Hit Wonder and a haunting track sung in Swedish featuring the bowed saw. Unfortunately the crowd arent well behaved and her band look a bit detached so the set never really commands full attention.
"Punters had been asked to bring sparklers and a fair few are lit and fizz away during a couple of the tracks"
A brave chap going by the name of Note to Self, but also known as Jonnie Fielding (hes played with Larrikin Love and Nizlopi amongst many others), takes to the stage amidst all the chatter, barefoot with a guitar to play a couple of heartfelt gospel-sounding songs a traditional spiritual called Nobody Knows the Trouble I See and The Sweetest Girl.
Up next is Lucy and the Caterpillar - the charming, diminutive Lucy Conroy from Burnley and her little acoustic guitar called Caterpillar, accompanied by a glass of red wine and a crocheted owl. She has a very hard time trying to be heard over the crowd and calls for quiet, as do several of the crowd but to no avail. She basically ends up just playing to the people at the front of the stage who want to hear her. Lucy has a strong sweet voice and vulnerability about her but the songs are far from soft and twee and in fact are short, sharp and quite mischievous. Highlights are Kings Cross and Alcoholic Dreams.
Hush the Many (Heed the Few) to give them their full name are seriously under-rated and although they seem to be gaining a reputation at festivals and pulling in crowds for their London shows, they probably wouldnt appear even on the periphery of most radars. Still the 100 Club is sold out tonight, packed with people in the know.
Its difficult to compare HTM to any other band. They sometimes fit into the Twisted Folk genre but there wasnt much folk in evidence tonight. Their music melds sublime male/female vocals, blistering guitars, soaring cello, funky bass and thumping drums. The band members are Nima, looking dandy in a black velvet suit, on vocals and guitar, the hooded and enigmatic Ruban also on guitar, Jo on the arty- looking electric cello, Alex on bass and angelic vocals, and the driving force John Tony on drums. HTM are intuitively adept at taking these instruments and voices from gentle and hushed spaces to an exciting, frenzied maelstrom of noise.
The set opens with The Knife a dramatic song which begins starkly with a loud pounding drumbeat. It has dark, threatening undercurrents and an edgy tension heightens throughout, reaching a furious pitch, but never feels resolved as the music fades at the end back to a thumping heartbeat.
Paper Doll stands out with fragile, broken vocals from Nima and builds slowly into a crescendo of swirling sounds. Punters had been asked to bring sparklers and a fair few are lit and fizz away during a couple of the tracks including the infectious Revolve, rumoured to be the next single, and the thunderous Roots Crack Stone which is played as an encore.
The guitars get a severe thrashing during most of the songs (Nima and Alex are actually bleeding from playing too hard!) Thats perhaps why the set finishes after 40 minutes and although its been an intense and passionate 40 minutes, it seems way, way too short for a headline slot, especially for a band of their capabilities and there is a bit of disappointment that In Bloom, a live favourite, wasnt included in the set list. Perhaps HTM felt, after the response to the support acts, that the crowd had a short attention span but everyone seemed to be absolutely enthralled by their performance and taken aback that it finished too soon. Still, if youre playing till your fingers are cut to shreds, 40 minutes is probably about the limit!
Im not sure how all this melodic mayhem would translate to radio but Hush the Many are certainly an extremely exhilarating live band.