Monday, February 14, 2011

Florrie / Vs / The Light Cascades / ZuZu @ The HMV Institute, Saturday 12th February 2011

Saturday night and it's off to the Institute Tower (aka the 'Temple')with me for a foursome...musically speaking obviously...kicking off with ZuZu, a feisty 16 year old from Liverpool with a penchant for the punkier side of rock and a surprisingly well developed sense of stage craft (cue plenty of foot stomping, hair flicking and guitar abuse). It was a short, sharp and suitably raucous set (one of the first outside her home turf I believe) with the standout number ‘ADD’ successfully fusing that punk attitude with a bit more of singalong pop sensibility. One to watch...

Next up some synthy treats in the form of local electro pop quartet The Light Cascades, replete with 80’s-tastic boy/girl vocals and old skool keyboards. After a slightly shaky start it all came together rather splendidly on tracks like ‘Smile’, as 80’s as the Rubiks Cube, ZX Spectrum and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. A bit Alphabeat in places the bloke sounds a little like a cross between the dude out of Psychedelic Furs and Robert Smith from The Cure...a similarity that was well and truly cemented with a winning cover of The Cure’s ‘Pictures Of You’.

Next, formed from the still smouldering ashes of Midland’s bands Augustine and 35 Seconds it’s in versus...not V’s. Got it? Good. That’s important ‘cos I reckon they could be on to something here. I can’t seem to find a website for them but trust me, their synths and samples sound is well worth hunting out, coming off like Thomas Dolby having a scrap with Infidels (the band) at an illegal rave sometime in 1989. Their grime-ish mash up of the Batman theme tune is really something...

Finally model/drummer/producer/singer/writer/brain surgeon (quite possibly) and all round good egg, Florrie. Currently being tipped for big things by those ‘in the know’, Florrie’s got the lot. Just 22 she’s already pounded the skins for Xenomania – the all conquering hit factory behind some of Kylie and Girls Aloud’s best stuff – and landed a deal as the face of Nina Ricci’s new scent, Drummer’s’s not right...L’Elixir. Anyway, as someone who’s unashamedly loved ‘pop music’ for...ahem...several years...oh alright then..decades...this is as good as it gets. It’s pure pop perfection. If you pumped in all of the ingredients for the perfect pop act in 2011 into a huge i-pop computer and gave it a few hours it would come up with Florrie. Why? Cracking tunes, a sweet voice (with just the hint of a darker edge), a great look and a something a little bit different in shape of her drumming abilities (and she really is an awesome drummer). It was one of those gigs where each tune lodged itself in your brain instantly and you found yourself humming it without meaning to...that’s always a great sign...or a sign of insanity...I’m never sure which. Kicking off with the future disco classic ‘Panic Attack’ Florrie, dressed in a rather fetching pair of leather shorts, looked every inch the pop star. Following up with the Girls Aloud-ish ‘Call of the Wild’ pretty much cemented the deal. I was hooked. She could’ve sung the fishing forecast and it would’ve sounded great. The fact that every song’s clearly been honed, sanded down, buffed up and polished to perfection is a bonus.

No doubt drawing from some of the acts that she’s worked with there are echoes of some of the greats of pop running through all of the tracks. Some Pet Shop Boys keyboards in ‘Left Too Late’ for example along with liberal scatterings of Girls Aloud and Kylie here, there and everywhere, plus that magical ingredient X that marks her out as something special. Sure, as I’ve already said everything’s been carefully crafted and no doubt worked on for months, if not years, but that’s what great pop’s all about. Something that, for 3 minutes and 26 seconds, can make you forget all about yourself and dance like a loon. ‘Give me Your Love’ is just such a tune. Featuring ‘Florrie’ pounding away at some drums placed at the front of the stage, whilst imploring some boy to ‘give me your love’, it clearly set the pulses racing for more than one or two in the audience judging by the impromptu chanting of her name that followed the song. Without pausing for breath Florrie and band (featuring some fellow Xenomania alumni I believe) gave us ‘Summer Nights’, the Chic-ish guitars adding a little welcome funk to proceedings before the set closed all too soon with ‘Call 911’, which saw Florrie do a bit of a rap thing, always a brave thing to attempt but, true to form, it actually worked.

Post gig I had the pleasure of chatting to her for a minute or two as she patiently posed for photos with fans and signed anything put in front of her. Bless her...she really is as nice as she seems. Pop stardom seems assured...resistance is futile...go on...give her your love.

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