Tilly and the Wall (Semifinalists and Emmy the Great)
The Cockpit, Leeds on 22nd May 2006
Reviewed by Dave on 23rd May 2006
I hadn't been to the Cockpit for a long time and the last time I was there most of it was closed, rumours were there was a maggot or rat infestation (possibly both), turns out though that they were just renovating the place, not that you could tell until you used the toilets. But the venue is merely the setting and tonight the Cockpit would play host to one of the most amazing gigs I have ever been to. It would involve a girl and her guitar, some crazy dancing, and a band who forgot to buy some drums but brought a tap-dancer with them instead.
Emmy the Great
How best to describe Emmy? Okay, think of Katie Melua, got it? Good, now forget the crappy music because the similarities between Emmy and Katie end at the fact that they are both girls and they both have guitars.
As she takes to the stage, shunning the convenient stairs and just climbing up the front, she looks afraid and more than a little shy so much so that I wanted to give her a hug just to let her know that we were all on her side. Once she starts to play and opens her mouth to sing however I quickly realised that this girl doesn't need a hug or my encouragement, she has talent by the bucket load and calling herself "Emmy the Great" is no exaggeration or arrogance on her part, if anything it's modest.
What followed was a wonderful vaguely folk-alternative rock music set, her current single ('Secret Circus') is a beautiful song that showcases Emmy's full range, she has a gorgeous voice, whether she is singing smoothly or shouting a little bit. The only downside to her set was that it was far too short; I could have happily listened to her all night.
Look out for this one girl show, she is going places and those places are going to be big and high.
The Semifinalists are a three piece band whose sound is very hard to describe, words that come to mind include; quirky and loud.
Their opening song is the excellent 'Origin Song' during which the band members who aren't behind the drums dance around the stage like kids on a sugar rush. The set continues in this vein with the band pulling out all the best songs from their album, the rocking 'You Said' is in there as well as the hauntingly pretty 'Chemicals That Wait'.
It is clear that this band has a lot of excess energy, just watching them made me feel like I had run a marathon, I was pretty sweaty but this could have been because of the Cockpit, it is affectionately called the Sweatpit after all.
The band relishes the attention and each member has at least song where they take the lead. The vocals are split equally between the members, with no one doing all the work, this provides a refreshing change from the norm and means that you get treated to a range of vocals rather than the same vocals each song, it means that no two songs sound exactly the same and it works very well.
Tilly and the Wall
If you met only the female members of Tilly, having never heard them play you could be forgiven for thinking that they were a 'Riot Grrl' band, they have the look of one and the attitude of one to boot. However two of the five members have trouser snakes and there is nothing Riot Grrl about the music of Tilly and the Wall.
The most amazing thing about Tilly is their lack of a drummer; I would love to know what led them to do away with the drum kit and instead have a tap dancer provide the rhythm, in my mind it goes something like this:
"So, can anyone play the drums?"
"Err, not me"
"I can tap dance!"
"Ok, that's just crazy enough to work"
On the album it sounds amazing, I was at first sceptical as to whether it would work live though. The opening number, 'Fell Down the Stairs' dismisses any doubt I had. Tap dancing works! What's more it works very very well.
The band powers through an amazing set featuring two new songs 'Let us be Free' and 'Urgency' and favourite songs from the album like 'You and I Misbehaving', which for me was the highlight of the main set, 'Reckless' was there too. After the second song there is a request from the crowd for 'Love Song', the band look shocked but say "Alright, we can do Love Song" and so they do.
Jamie (the tap dancer) seems to be the centrepiece of the band's performance, this has now ceased to be merely a gig, and it has become a spectacle. Jamie dances her heart out providing the percussion section of the songs whilst Neely, Kianna and Derek (yes, Derek, it's an ace name) sing gloriously.
After the band leaves the stage, the chants for an encore begin and the applause is rapturous, the band come back and seems at a loss as what to play, the crowd want one song but the band are reluctant to play it. What follows is a medley of 'Pictures of Houses' and another song that I didn't recognise.
The second song of the encore is "Nights of the Living Dead" and Tilly gets Emmy and the Semifinalists up on stage with them, as well as their sound tech and driver/tour manager and have an amazing jam, which ends up with Emmy bashing a bin lid and the members of Semifinalists shaking maracas and playing random keys on the keyboard.
It is the perfect end to a simply awe inspiring gig, this is the last night that these three bands will perform together and the love between them is obvious as they leave the stage together with arms round each other and big beaming smiles on their faces (awwww!)
A chaotic and very fun evening, every band tonight was at the top of their game (to steal a sporting description there). And, I have no doubt that they will all go far, check out their various websites for songs, all of which are readily available on iTunes, so you have no excuse!
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