Teenage years – Ugh – in song

Last night – first trip to Glee Club on Nottingham’s canalside. A polite, restrained venue.

First up, Sea of Bees. I had heard them on 6 Music, in passing rather than really listening to them so I only had a rough idea of what they were like. Two girls appeared on stage, one of them androgynous in appearance, not dowdy but dressed in perhaps a retro style. It suited her. The other girl more feminine. (I could, at this point, do some research and tell you their names etc but I don’t want facts to spoil my impression of the evening so do it yourself later if you want.)

They played perhaps six songs? Maybe seven. I don’t remember. In between there was some chat. She was very intense and her songs were all about yearning for love, telling people in the only way she could manage how much she cared for them. She was, in essence, my teenage self if I’d had any musical ability and the balls to stand up and sing in front of strangers. Shy, painful, yearning, anguished, utterly charming and very very sweet. The final song was just her playing alone while the other girl (Amber) sat to one side. The raw edge to her singing brought me to unexpected tears. She appeared so very young and socially awkward, yet wiser than her years. The problem as a society of dismissing young people out of hand, as I think we do, is when they show you that they have the capacity and ability to surprise you, you end up as an emotional wreck in an overheated club on a Thursday night.

I hope that some of that was performance, some of that was her past. I hope she has someone now. She deserves it.

The Smoke Fairies, by contrast, were much more polished. There is a scene in Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth plays, I think at Lucas Lodge, and is followed at the instrument by her sister Mary. Mary is technically more proficient but doesn’t have the unaffected manner of playing of Elizabeth’s performance and is thus listened to with less enjoyment. So it was here. They were both much more accomplished, more beautiful, better dressed and very nice. Their harmonies were lovely, their music is good and I do enjoy listening to it. But there seemed to be no emotional connection for me, no giving of themselves.

Perhaps it’s a bit churlish to complain – after all it would be exhausting every night wouldn’t it? It was just the contrast of the two and I guess when you see someone like you repeat one of the most uncomfortable periods of your life in song you’re always going to be affected. It’s clearly not music for everyone – the newspaper reviewer was at the bar and seemed somewhat embarrassed by it. But it worked for me. Oh, and I must learn slide guitar…

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