Coming hot on the heels of LOUD WOMEN’s spectacularly successful September Festival, our 6th Birthday bash may have been smaller in concept but it was no less mighty in content, and there was no better place to be on the night of October 9th than in the basement of the genuinely legendary music venue that is North London’s Hope & Anchor, enjoying six diverse and diverting acts that further reinforce your reviewer’s personal belief that we are living in one of the greatest ever eras for live music, and creative musicianship.

You won’t have seen much of  Beth White lately, unless you’ve found yourself standing next to her at an ARXX gig. The former drummer-turned-guitarist for The Menstrual Cramps has been ‘figuring out stuff’ before relaunching her earlier solo career, and her short set was Beth’s first show anywhere in almost three years. Any slight nervousness there might have been on her part (and I know there was at least some) had gone before the end of  her first song, ‘Practice Girl’.

Beth White

Beth charmed us incessantly with around half a dozen of her own well crafted, lyrically expressive songs and even felt brave enough to throw in a cover of ARXX’s ‘Masters Of Device’. (Hey, Hanni and Clara don’t perform it anymore, and it’s too good a number to go to waste, so why not leave it in the capable hands of their joint #1 fan?). Beth, if you’re reading this, well played mate – and please don’t leave it three more years to play another gig…

Beth was not the only solo performer to bring a stack of great songs and an enormous amount of talent to the H&A stage. The most excellent Alice Nicholls brought their instruments down from Leeds to give us half an hour of highly impressive music as a LW debutant. Alice is a gregarious, immediately likeable person whose repertoire is largely an extension of their good-natured onstage and offstage presence. Strong songs with memorable choruses abounded, with a true highlight coming midway through the set as they put down their guitar and accompanied themselves on violin for a heartbreaking  rendition of Alison Krauss’ ‘You Will Be My Ain True Love’, which easily equalled the mournful intensity of Krauss’ own coruscating version.

Alice Nicholls

Alice made many new friends and fans in their short time onstage, and will make many more in the near future. I’m happy to consider myself both, I hope…

Playing as a drummerless duo, Ich Bin Finn were third on the bill – and from the start it was clear that they were intent on giving us another of what we described as ‘a stonking set of rabble rousers and queer love songs’ in an interview shortly after their first ever LW gig in 2019.  Finn and Kimmi were definitely here for the party and sang and swore their way through a rambunctious collection of songs that included ‘Fuck Off’, which I believe they dedicated with tongues in cheek to our Cassie (so seemingly not looking for the return engagement, then…) and a delightfully chaotic cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)’.  If you were looking for cerebral, you may have come to the wrong set, but F & K enjoyed it on stage as much as we all did off it…

Ich Bin Finn

Your scribe didn’t actually see I, Doris as I took a turn on the door while  Doris-In-Chief  Doris swapped her pinny for her guitar and took to the stage in the company of Doris, Doris and Doris, for a slightly smaller assemblage than the octet (or possibly bigger) of Dorises  that graced the main stage of the 229 at the recent all dayer.  But it’s well known that size isn’t everything, and the four Dorises made every bit as joyful a noise as their extended line up did back in September.  I didn’t need to see them to know how well they were going over – I could hear the music and the positive audience responses. They ripped through their dynamic, mostly up-tempo set with efficiency and professionalism, bringing great singles like ‘Just Some Doris’, ‘Wonderwomen’ and the forthcoming ‘In The Ladies’ into play for everyone’s approbation. 

I, Doris

I may have a chum or two in the band, but I have no bias where I, Doris are concerned. They are terrific,  extremely capable musicians and a great live experience, and beneath the seemingly light-hearted nature of the overall concept there lurks a group that is as serious as a heart attack…

And so to Currls, whose road to their first-ever LW show has been hampered by many personnel comings and goings and more recently by and outbreak of Covid that prevented the Brighton-based trio (none of whom are actually from Brighton) from playing the previous LW Party.  Now fully fit and fresh off a short, satisfying run of local ‘comeback’ gigs  and the Isle Of Wight Festiival, Holly, Hannah and Carmen were in truly devastating form tonight, as they tore though seven of Holly’s expertly crafted originals. Holly Blake is a true force of nature – and with no disparagement to any of the past members, the current and please, God, ongoing rhythm section are by far the most sympathetic and compatible musical colleagues she’s had or is ever likely to have to accompany her achingly soulful vocals and gritty, choppy guitar work.

Currls

I have to say that I am perhaps the biggest Currls fan on the planet, love them almost as much as I do my own family and almost never miss their gigs wherever they play. I might therefore be slightly biased about how great they were, but I doubt if there was any band, anywhere on the planet playing better songs than ‘Nerve’, ‘Her Name Is’ ‘Still Here’ Bad Habits’, ‘Green Man’ ‘Let Down’ and the anthemic  ‘April Fool’ at that time, on that night.  It was so thrilling to see them receive such a strong response. It was little more than they will always deserve, and hopefully it will not be too long before they play for us again…

Bringing the six-act spectacular to an uproarious end were another Brighton based trio, albeit one that could not have been more different to Currls or anyone else who had preceded them for that matter.  The full frontal audio attack of Lambrini Girls brought the noise and them brought some more as they flew through a set of highest octane punky thrashers, all of them shaken to life in a savage manner by the formidable Phoebe Lunny, who sounded like she had prepared for the evening by gargling razorblades in a cocktail of T-Cut, bleach and diesel. 

Lambrini Girls

Their impressive swathe of aural onslaughts included a song about Craig David (I think!) and one which I am sure was called ‘I’m Gay, And I’m Panicking’  (oh, for that lost notebook…), all of them delivered with the impact of a sonic screwdriver to the skull at 100 miles per hour.  Frequently jumping on and off stage to personally interact with the front few rows, Phoebe and her accomplices (Fox on bass, Catt on drums) threw everything they had at the audience, and we were only too glad to receive it. They might not have provided a particularly melodic end to the evening, but the impression  they left was indelible,  I was still thinking about how good they were as I trudged towards my late night appointment with the tube, and I bet I wasn’t the only one…

…These are brilliant times to be in love with music, aren’t they? And to think it’s only a matter or a few weeks to the next LW party on 21 November!

Can’t hardly wait myself, how about you?

You can follow most if not all of the above on the usual socials and hear/buy their music on Bandcamp.

Loud Women’s not-to-be-missed November party will be held at The Lexington on November 21st and will feature I. Doris, T-Bitch, Greenness and Hotwax…