It only takes one glance around The Old Queen’s head to realise that tonight is about more than the music. There’s a distinct scene going on and with a diverse and disparate line up it’s obvious they’ve come for one band.
Plaster Of Paris are seemingly not that band. They produce a 1920’s throw back sound lead by singer Molly’s quirky vocals, and their myspace description of ‘melodramatic popular song’ could not be more fitting. Whilst the introduction of a gramophone horn creates an interesting sound, I’m somewhat dazed by the concluding song of their set, filled with operatic melodies. At times they work, creating a sound that Florence & The Machine or Kate Bush might be proud of, but at other times it rings of drama school talent show falling deaf to half of the audience.
This leads into what can only be described as a stand-up set from Beans On Toast. Half way through he hints that he might stop talking and simply sing, but never delivers on this promise. Opening with a number about shoes (though not uptempo Paolo Nuttini style) he quickly tries to get the audience on side. Giving them parts to the next song, his own interruptions cause it to kilter off almost as quickly as he started. Oil fairs better but there’s a real sense that he’s trying to be Billy Bragg and failing, the end result washing over me and the majority of the crowd as little more than an absurd interlude.
Little Fish face as big a battle as their predecessors. The audience, who seem yet to be impressed, stand almost baffled as the band work their way through an entirely new set of songs. Though musically solid, 25 Dollar Shoes and Blue Morning fail to get a reaction. It’s only as Juju seems to lose her rag with the straight faced crowd, kicking and hissing her way around the stage in Lord’s Mistake and Innuendo that the audience even realise there’s a band on stage. Though musically I cannot fault them, the apathetic audience dampen the rock bands’ spirits.
Everything changes when Sound of Rum arrive and it’s clear that the poetic rap is what the crowd have lusted for. The venue suddenly becomes swamped, packed so full you can barely breathe. It’s undoubted that Kate’s lyrics are strong, and when she delivers Line In The Sand without the band this is a perfect example of her ability to drop beat words with power. Nevertheless with the band everything becomes blurred, the backing melodies lacking the variation that’s needed to carry the genre through. Though the audience are enamoured, lusting after every syllable the only line that resonates is when Kate professes it’s ‘all about the substance, not about the image’ and tonight I can’t help but feel that the audience have lost sight of this. Though lyrically impressive, new single Slow Slow has the same vibe as every other. The percussion is strong but there’s little to differentiate between tracks save subtle variations and by the end of the set I feel like I’ve heard the same track 15 times over.