Sunday, 14 September 2014

26/2/2013 Anna-Christina solo acoustic set @ Avalon

SubjectAnna-Christina solo acoustic set @ Avalon
DateCreated3/2/2013 9:20:00 AM
PostedDate3/4/2013 4:11:00 AM

Something a bit different, both musically and in location. I find myself in the unlikely environs of a West End bar/nightclub to hear an acoustic set. Yes really. I'm at Avalon. I was wondering if I'd even get in - expecting a black suited security gorilla on the door saying "You can't come in wearing that". However, I just walked straight in unchallenged somehow. I checked out the club's bar on their website and it didn't look promising - it gave the impression they only served cocktails at around the £8 mark.
Plans had already been made to to drink elsewhere before/after the gig instead.
However, I was surprised to find they did actually have bottled and draught beer. Less surprisingly there was nothing I actually wanted to drink, so I didn't bother - this being the heart of the West End it would probably have been well other £4 for a pint of something horrible anyway.
Fortunately, I'd just had a nice pint in the Wetherspoons round the corner so I wasn't about to get thirsty.

So why am I in this unlikely venue? I'm here to witness the first 'Official' solo acoustic set by Anna-Christina from Lilygun. The band have been taking a break from gigs for a few months for various reasons, and Anna-Christina has felt the need to get and and play again. This time she is doing things differently and in Lilygun's downtime she is stepping away from her full-on rock mode and taking her first steps in singer/songwriter territory. Songwriting is nothing new to this lady as she wrote all the songs on last year's long awaited Lilygun debut album. However, she is now stepping out of her comfort zone and into uncharted waters. Anna-Christina doesn't believe in taking the easy route - most people in this situation would just play stripped down acoustic versions of their band's existing well tried songs. No - that would be too easy! Instead we get four never before heard songs and a cover. This series of solo acoustic gigs are going under the rather puzzling name of 'Pretty Little Lady?' Yes, the question mark is intentional - but why you may ask as there is surely no question? Well this little lady is puzzling so...

The first song is actually called 'Pretty Little Lady?', and once the lyrics hit home you begin to understand. This is actually hard hitting stuff lyrically and there is quite a bit of venom in there - directed at a person or persons unknown.
The uncompromising nature of the material continues with the second song 'Dirty Rotten Liars'. Anna-Christina might look quite demure and unoffensive, but certain people have obviously left her seriously pissed-off!
Some of her songs with Lilygun have dealt with some of the 'Scum' (her word) she has encountered in the past, but now she is really letting rip and venting her anger in a much more direct fashion!

Although anyone attending tonight wanting to hear Lilygun songs is going to be disappointed, there is one song that most people will recognise - a cover of the Garbage song 'Fix Me Now' - again showing a different side to this intriguing lady - It's not all anger and attitude after all. Listening to the debut Garbage album that this song comes from you see where Anna-Christina draws some of her inspiration from. but of course that band's Shirley Manson is another lady you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of!

The turnout tonight is rather good - especially for an expensive upmarket venue on a Tuesday night. Anna-Christina's set is very well received by those present. The lady herself seems to rather enjoy the chance to vent her anger as well - she looks quite relaxed and at home in this new environment. There are a few more of these acoustic shows lined up and I'm sure future performances will be even better. However, Lilygun fans fear not - I hear are returning to the live scene in a matter of weeks...

As with the choice of her band name Lilygun, Anna-Christina is a mass of contradictions. This softer acoustic approach still drips with venom. And yet in spite of the aggressive nature of the lyrics in tonight's songs, she adopts a much softer vocal style than she does when fronting her rock band Lilygun. Is this the real Anna-Christina finally starting to rear her head? I think the vocal style she displays tonight sounds more natural - she is really allowing her voice to soar and approach it's real potential. She sings well with Lilygun, but I get the feeling she has been holding back for some reason and now her voice is starting to fly. I think the real Anna-Christina is only just starting to show herself - the chrysalis has started to open and the butterfly is getting ready to emerge...

Although Avalon isn't a bad as expected, some of the crowd are keen to move on for a few drinks in a quieter and more relaxing (not to mention cheaper!) environment. In dribs and drabs (mainly dribs) we make out way to the nearby Wetherspoons. Even Wetherspoons pubs aren't as cheap in the West End - they seem to have added .10p to the price of a pint.
I have always been a little uneasy visiting this particular establishment as it is the former venue of the famous Marquee club in Charing Cross Road - it makes me sad remembering what it used to be like and all the great bands that played here.
However, with good company and a few pints of the the fine Wildcat ale inside me I feel a lot more relaxed.
Most of the people from the gig, including the artiste herself end up in the pub until closing time - I'm not used to being in places that close at 11.00 these days! A few of us fancy another drink or two so we head off to the nearby 12 Bar Club but even at 11.30 at night they want £3 on the door and we only want to go in for a drink. So we cross to the other side of Denmark Street and head into a little basement dive bar that is still open and not charging to get in. Like being in the former Marquee earlier in the evening, we are again in a room where rock history was created. We are standing in the former Regents Sound Studios where Black Sabbath recorded their first two albums, and a little blues band called the Rolling Stones also recorded there in their earliest days. It's been a varied, interesting and enjoyable night.

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