Sunday, October 22, 2006

Green is the colour


It's John Peel Day, and the bill for tonight's gig (put on by F.A.G.) is suitably eclectic ie bizarrely but somehow workably diverse.

After a solo performer kicks the night off armed with nothing but her voice and an acoustic guitar, Gender Fascist take to the stage - or, at least, they would have done, if the upstairs room at the Hawaiian had a stage. As it is, they're on the floor, very much in amongst us. "Provocative performance punk terrorists" is probably be the description the twopiece would wish for - the sort of band that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs of yore would have invited to play one of their loft parties.

Certainly, with one member attacking a heavily distorted bass and later a metal bin, and the other screaming vocals whilst beating on a saucepan with a spoon, tunes and talent don't really come into it. But when it clicks - and it does at least a couple of times during the ten minute six-or-seven song set, with the songs about Aberystwyth gay clubs and bicuriosity - it's both potent and fun.

Lily Green is radically different again. Having moved from New Zealand in the summer, Lily is playing her first gig in the UK - and it's immediately obvious this environment is too small for her considerable talents.

A virtuoso piano player with a rich and sensuous voice, she charges the intimate atmosphere with electricity, holding the rapt attention of all those present from the off. Lily's classical training is evident, but her songs are not merely show-off-ish workouts - there is an astonishing force and anger channelled into her performance, and she often seems abandoned in the moment, drawing us into that same abandonment.

The closest reference points I could give would be to Tori Amos and perhaps (when the laptop is brought into play) Bjork, but those comparisons are clumsy and should only really be read as an indication that Lily is (a) female and (b) a musical maverick. Cardiff should just be thankful that this is where she washed ashore.


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