A bitterly cold winter's Sunday is a hard night to stage a gig and expect a crowd to venture out into the wild winds. However Manchester Lane seems to be everyone's perfect choice to evade the inclement weather outside, there is a constant to-ing and fro-ing of waiting staff from the Kitchen, the bar is busy with clanking glasses and the venue is nigh on full with an enthusiastic and appreciative audience chatting in these highly civilised surrounds. Laura Jean and the Eden Land Band more appear on stage quietly and collectively than take to it, a motley collective of bass, drums, violin, clarinet and a pair of legs dangling behind the stage's vast grand piano. Despite Laura's protestations to life being hard as a 'Folk' musician and quips about confidence issues, (apparently unbeknown to her) she has the room in the palm of her hands, with all sat staring at her attentively, hanging on to every breathy vocal, every luscious intertwining melody and haunting hook. The set is a hypnotic series of beautiful arrangements, crescendos rising, harmonies building and falling, a seemingly complex patchwork of brilliantly played instruments by permanently bemused but skilled musicians.
Pikelet is and has always been hard to place, her solo shows can take some getting used to, as she sets up songs and builds to sometimes ear splittingly layered musical peaks through an ingenious combination of gadgets and dusty old instruments. The thought of her with a backing band is a tempting one, an opportunity to take her involved arrangements and spread them out between other musicians, leading to more spacious and fluid songs. However her backing band tonight is not the anticipated stage full of people with a plethora of instruments but two lanky fellows, one on a drum kit of sorts and the other behind an increasing array of gizmos, instruments and sounds. When the 'band' takes the opportunity to really kick in suddenly Pikelet's songs come vibrantly alive with a renewed groove and freshness that can only be added by a gang of musicians gelling toether. These opportunities are few with the majority of the set simply Pikelet, her intriguing methods of accompanying herself and her strange stage manner. The moments when she is most engaging and her talent for witty melodies really shines through are when it really is just her, a powerful solo voice, a solo instrument, her unique phrasing and her eccentrically haunting songs.
Published in InPress