An evening of emotions, raw and controlled sees Molly Burch woo London's Lexington.
It’s a strange experience, walking into a pub to see a queue, people lining up at the tiny box office in the entrance, hoping for the best place to stand when it comes time to ascend the stairs and rush the tiny stage. It’s unclear if the experience is made more or less weird by the paisley-ed walls of the pub, the chandelier, and the longhorn cow skulls mounted between mustard velvet curtains, but at least these touches gave the queuing mass something to look at while they waited. Upstairs, past the classic gig-poster-wallpapered walls, a tiny bar is forced into the corner away from the stage, set up from the main area by three steps. Inbuilt sofa seating flanks the walls, and the sound technician can be found, at the start of tonight's show, which sees Molly Burch and band with support from Rocheman, in a scrappy booth littered by the discarded bottles and glasses of the customers who mistake the half-height walls for another bench or arm-rest.
, who open the show, bring an interesting energy to the night. A jittery, stuttering, synth kicks off many of the songs, before guitar, bass, and drums join in, layering features upon the landscape the keyboard has established. Over the course of a handful of spacey, sound-driven tracks the audience gets lost and found and lost and found again in the intricacies of songs that flow and bend and often break apart. Songs purposefully wander off track and get lost inside themselves, veering so far away from what the audience remember hearing just a second earlier that, at times, it's as if we've missed the end of one song or the beginning or another.
The music is fragile, frayed and torn like a page from a book. It slows down, trundling its way to a finish, and Jordan Mallory-Skinner (the man behind Rocheman) introduces Molly Burch’s inevitable presence to the stage, and thanks them, almost apologetically, for their time listening – as if any note of the set had been anything but gorgeous and lush.
And then, to the smoke-drenched stage, lights low comes Molly Burch
and her four accompanying band members. Throughout the set, mostly encompassing songs from her recent release, First Flower
, Burch peppers it with the occasional track from her debut, Please Be Mine
, allowing for a wonderfully lengthy performance. Over the course of fourteen tracks, plus a one song encore, Burch demonstrates her impressive vocal ability to give every song in her repertoire just as much strength, vulnerability, and heart as each one demands. For some, she hardly strays from the smoky, lower register, whilst on others she fully opens up, jumping up and roaring the lyrics at the audience, yet always being completely in control.
At times, the rawness behind songs is able to come through, peeking its head out from behind an otherwise note-perfect performance. With wild guitar solos from the two guitarists and Molly Burch letting loose with open-throated vocals that showcase the emotion that inspired certain tracks, emotion that has been slightly hidden behind the gorgeous restraint of the recorded tracks.
The highlight of the whole performance was the penultimate song (and First Flower album closer), 'Every Little Thing,' which is the only song in the performance to strip down from the full-band sound. The bass player away from his guitar, accompanies on keyboard, as Burch croons her way up through the crescendo and let go, the hurt behind the song comes roaring out after a delicate, gorgeous opening. With the end of the performance, Molly Burch and the band walk offstage, to scattered cheers from the audience, unsure of whether or not there would be an encore. Either emboldened by the stifled desire of the audience or according to plan, the band return towards the stage as music starts playing through the venue's PA to play the audience out. The band pauses halfway back on stage, unsure of what to do, turning to leave the stage again but the audience has already spied them and started cheering louder and louder over the music. With that they take the stage again for the fifteenth, and final, song, 'I Love You Still,' the lyrics at times feeling as if they had been written specifically for the London audience in the wake of Burch’s departure the next day – “I loved you then and I love you now/ I love you still.”
Photography: Getintothis' Chris Flack