Findlay haven’t been in the UK for a very long time. “We’ve been out of the country for so long, I almost said danke schoen then. It’s good to be back”, Natalie Findlay says after her first song. It’s good to have her back, too, as she performed an enthralling 15 song set covering her excellent debut album Forgotten Pleasures, along with a couple of covers and new tracks, where she showcased her diversity and versatility as an artist in front of a cracking live band.
Opening on the night were new Brighton band, Klae, who sounded like everyone from Lorde to Lana Del Rey and The xx. It was ‘Expectations’ that caught my ear though. With heavy riffs and driving drum beats, it strangely reminded me of Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To The Hills’, but its chorus sounded like an early Paramore track. Debut single ‘Fake’ is poppier, for sure, but still feels rough and gritty.
MarthaGunn were up next. After going quiet in the summer it’s clear now that they were hiding away working on great new music. This show, their first Brighton show in a while, was the first time they’ve played many of them too. ‘The Devil That You Wear’ and ‘Outside’ sound like Tango in the Night-era Fleetwood Mac with strong drum beats backing up intense vocals. In fact, a lot of frontwoman Abi Woodman’s on stage persona reminds me of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, with her flowery, baggy clothes and her emotive, heartfelt voice. They also played both ‘Honest’ and ‘Heaven’, which, by now, sound like absolute classics. Everyone in the venue seemed to know the lyrics. MarthaGunn have been around for a while now, and it finally feels like they’re about to break-out.
Green Door Store had really begun to fill up as Findlay took to the stage. Opening with ‘Greasy Love’, it was instantly clear that her and her band were up for this one. The almost-rapping ‘Greasy Love’ is an intense, dancey track that saw Findlay dancing across the stage. “Well I’m so tired of trying to be good, and oh lord, I was born to be misunderstood,” Findlay roared in this murky, perspiring song about lust and the difficulty of finding it. Greasy is certainly the right word for this gloomy song. She swiftly followed this up with the indie-pop banger ‘Electric Bones’, which directly changes the mood, showing the immense talent of Findlay. One minute we were in a dirty, grimey club, the next in a squeaky clean chart-sensation nightclub.
This is the genius of Findlay. She has the versatility and confidence to approach most genres. On ‘Junk Food’ she has the swagger of her Greater Manchester compatriots, the Gallagher brothers, while on ‘Forgotten Pleasures’ she seems to be honing a poppier side more akin with the likes of Ladyhawke and La Roux. A great moment comes when Findlay and the band tackle a cover that “They learnt yesterday so if it’s shit that’s why”. It’s a cover of 60s Dutch rock band Shocking Blue’s ‘Send Me a Postcard’. It is an impenitent rock ‘n’ roll song that is brilliant in its simplicity and, honestly, there’s lots of Findlay’s own work in it. It’s nice to see her wear her influences on her sleeve.
Whether she’s acting like a 70s rock chick, a modern crooner or a swaggering rock ‘n’ roll star, there’s a lot to like in Findlay’s live show. A lot heavier and intense as a live show, she really brings it and the crowd were lapping it up. None more so than on big single and closing song ‘Off & On’, which saw moshing, singing along and an atmosphere about to reach melting point.