Continuing to go from strength to strength, London’s best kept secret, new-music night The Society Of The Golden Slippers, finishes a triumphant year with a performance by Pixie Geldof-fronted band, Violet. Held at exclusive Mayfair club, Morton’s, it’s not your average gig – for a start, people are drinking champagne as opposed to watered-down lager. Henry Holland is here. And Sir Bob. Eek.
Unaccustomed to gigs where our feet aren’t sticking to the floor, it takes Clash a while to settle in (i.e. find the bar) before Geldof the Younger and Prettier takes the stage in vertiginous, diamante sandals and a slinky black number. It’s soon clear that – shock! - the girl can sing! As the lazy, stripped-back chords of ‘What You Gave To Me’ seep into the room, Geldof’s voice is deep, powerful, slightly dirty, as she croons “I drink a bottle of wine/tell me it’s over.” There’s a country rawness reminiscent of Lisa Marie Presley, the rich, soul qualities of Kristina Train and the husky debauchery of Courtney Love. At times there’s even a hint, dare we say it, of Nancy Sinatra – although this comparison is admittedly helped by one song to which the entire lyrics of ‘Bang Bang’ can be sung simultaneously.
Vocals aside, Violet the band are a rather compelling mixture of smacked-out ‘60s girl band and ‘90s shoegaze and grunge, with a large dollop of Hole (the name, Violet, being something of a clue). All these influences combine on debut single, ‘Y.O.U’, which weaves a stoner bass line with some scuzzy guitar moments and an echoing, dopamine chorus. This is pretty much the formula for the rest of the set, and about four songs in the ears do begin to yearn for something a little more driven. This reprieve comes in the rather unexpected form of a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl (In The World)’, which is surprisingly good – brilliant even. Despite being given the down-tempo treatment, the nevertheless more driven track suits the band, and demonstrates that Geldof’s voice can easily handle power pop as well as dream pop.
All in all, it’s a solid set that hits moments of brilliance and sparkle, although you can’t help feeling that this is less a band and more Geldof and four really good session musicians. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as she seems more than capable, not to mention aware of the “credibility” issue ahead of her, at one point singing “Baby’s got really big shoes to fill.” Massive clogs aside, tonight’s show suggests she’s well on the road to doing so.
Words by Theresa Heath