Saturday, May 14, 2011

Florrie / The Light Cascades @ The Academy, Friday 13th May 2011

I was lucky enough to see Florrie’s first Birmingham show earlier this year and she blew me away. Hey, I’m an old pop tart, what can I say? So a return date so soon after her first was just too much of a temptation to miss. Tonight was one of those early doors gigs (there was a club night afterwards) so the first act was already finishing when we arrived. No idea what he was called but I enjoyed his acoustic, slowed down cover of Outkast's Hey Ya. Next up the instant 80’s movie soundtrack machine that is The Light Cascades. There’s a show on E4 at the moment called Glory Daze (very good it is too...a bit like a weekly mini John Hughes movie) and it’s all set in an American college in can imagine a Light Cascades track fitting right in on it. They had a few Friday 13th wobbles (the odd bum note and missed cue) but, to be fair, the audience was, let’s say...still select (i.e. there was hardly anyone there) and it can’t be easy playing to a near empty room. As with the last gig I saw them play though they pulled it out the bag with the pairing of their two best tracks ‘Flights’ and ‘Smile’ which is chocked full of feel good 80’s keyboards, electronic drum beats and lyrics “Chase the night you never want to end...” – how 80’s is that? Very...that ‘s how 80’s that is. There’s even a bit of vocoder at the end for good measure. Now That What I Call Music.

Happily the room had filled out a bit more in time for Florrie and a particularly enthusiastic group of young gentlemen seemed especially keen to see her. I can’t blame them. For the uninitiated here’s the low down. She’s a 22 year old model, drummer, singer and songwriter with a knack for penning pop tracks as addictive as a sack of crack. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she's an all round nice person to boot. I’ve always been a sucker for classic pop. Whilst I’m quite happy listening to an album of Algerian funk, Lithuanian punk or Chinese krunk, few musical genres can really hit the spot like a great bit of pop. Having cut her musical chops as in-house drummer for the hitmaking Xenomania machine (working with Kylie, Pet Shop Boys and Girls Aloud amongst others)she’s steadily been self releasing tracks online for the past year or so and, as tonight’s show proved, they’re 24carat pop gold.

Dressed in a rather fetching black lace number and wearing the kind of heels that would cripple most people (how do you ladies wear those things?) she kicked off the night with Panic Attack. A throbbing bass line, some simple synths and a chorus that burrows its way right into your central lobe and refuses to leave, it deserves to be number one all over the world. It’s halfway through the song that you get to see Florrie’s real USP though. She drums like a demon, playing a standup kit without breaking a sweat. It’s a great moment, musically and visually, the cherry on a cake that’s already covered in ‘em. How do you follow that? How about the twangy guitar riffs of Call Of The Wild? Good call. Florrie does her best heartbreaker routine”I’m a woman, not a siren calling...”. Hmmm I wouldn’t be so sure about that...this stuff’s addictive. Florrie junkies will already be familiar with most of tonight’s set but there were a few newbies. The pick of these, ‘Begging Me’ is a glossy piece of sophisticated pop, once again demonstrating that knack for the hooky chorus with some neatly rhythmical wordplay. The set highlight had to be the pounding, almost tribal drumming of Give Me Your Love with its piano bedded breakdowns and slow burning build-ups – the definitive Florrie track to date. If there’s pop in heaven this’ll be on the playlist. If I had to make some constrictive criticism, Florrie’s a great drummer and that’s perhaps being lost a little right now. I’d like to see her take on a few more drum solos during these shows, or perhaps have a bit of a jam as an encore? It’s a minor quibble but it you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Okay, so the crowd wasn’t huge tonight but Florrie’s doing this stuff on her own at the moment. She’s still not signed - her choice seemingly as she doesn’t want to get eaten up and spat out by one of the big labels - but when the rest of the world catches up (and if there’s any justice in the world they soon will) she’s going to be HUGE. Maybe a tour on the gay circuit would help? I know it’s a sweeping generalisation (but there are worse things to be stereotyped for than having great taste in music eh?) but a really up for it crowd would lap this stuff up...I saw Pixie Lott play at Gay Pride on the back of a truck in Birmingham a few years ago and six months later she was number one. And, trust me, Pixie Lott’s no Florrie.

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