Guillemots / Joan As Policewoman – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Sunday June 4
Brooklyn singer-songwriter Joan Wasser certainly keeps impeccable company, having played with Antony & The Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters. Unlike the lush drama of her collaborators, her solo material is austere and oblique, with an intimacy which works best over time.
At the Rescue Rooms, Joan struggled to form a connection past the first few rows of the audience, as the chatter from the back increasingly threatened to drown out her frail performance. Those who failed to “get” her should track down current single “The Ride”: a beautiful, accessible ballad which benefits from a fuller arrangement.
Later today, Guillemots will discover whether they have won Mojo magazine’s Best Newcomer award. On the strength of last night’s eccentric, whimsical performance, which frustrated as much as it intrigued, it would be a surprise victory indeed.
The multi-national six-piece are undeniably fine, creative musicians, with an amusing unconventionality and a strong mission to entertain. However, all the clever trickery on display (3D sound effects, typewriters as percussion instruments, songs collapsing into mad freak-outs before re-starting) failed to stop boredom setting in, as the underlying lack of emotional substance became increasingly apparent.
Sure, there was plenty to admire – but sadly, there was also little to love.