Live review by Tony Rounce – Currls at Hope & Ruin, Brighton, 4 April 2019

On their Facebook page, Brighton trio Currls describe themselves as ‘a new kind of retro that you will want to love’.  They’re right, and I do.  I first saw them just a month or so ago, playing in Hastings as part of the Fat Tuesday line up on a miserably cold, wet and windy Sunday night.  It was infatuation at first song, swiftly turning to a full-blown love that made me angry with myself that I hadn’t found them earlier.

I’ve since seen Currls at every available opportunity. Thus it was that on April 9th, on another cold, wet and windy night, I found myself at Brighton’s excellent Hope And Ruin pub with an impressive turn out of fellow fans, attending the launch gig for their new single ‘Let Down’.

There’s great camaraderie in Currls that seems to be a recurring factor in Brighton-based bands. Between songs, lead singer/guitarist Holly and equally gregarious, perpetually-smiling drummer Maddy talk to each other, and to their audience, continuously. They exchange banter and laughs, and let the audience know that they are having as good a time as we are. The two occasionally let tall, dark and mostly silent bass player Lawrie get a word in edgeways, but I get the feeling he is a man who knows his limitations…

If the between-song banter is relaxed and easygoing, Currls’ actual performances are anything but.  Frontwoman Holly Blake is a genuine force of nature; her fantastic husky vocals jumping from a beguiling whisper to a full-throated roar at will, and fully owning the highly emotional content in the trio’s repertoire. She also plays guitar in a choppy, funky way that feeds off the tough rhythms of her two band mates, who also contribute vocal harmonies to reinforce just how melodic the group’s songs are.

Currls’ current eight-song set is full of impressive words and mostly up-tempo music. Holly can deliver a hook in a manner that would impress boxing’s Nicola Adams, and the earnest power in her delivery brings ‘instant anthem’ status to the likes of set highlights like  ‘Nerve’, ‘Green Man’ (which may or may not be about aliens and my money’s on not) and their fab debut single from last year ‘April Fool’ – the penultimate performance of an April evening that inevitably concluded with a triumphant run at that powerful new single. 

After 40 minutes of perfect poptastic brilliance,  the trio left the stage full of smiles and to huge cheers, of which they deserved every last one.  Holly said afterwards that she had been worried that her voice was not at its best – but of course it was and this lovely, enormously-likeable woman had inevitably been worrying about nothing.

Even in a town full of great bands, Currls stand out as one of the greatest.  Please do check them – and both their singles – out at your first available opportunity…