by Little Miss B, 3rd April 2010. All photography by Rachel Ferriman for The Girls Are...
Peggy Sue @ Relentless Garage
Support by Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards & The Mariner's Children29th March 2010
This was an important night for Peggy Sue. Not only were they headlining their biggest show yet, but this week also marked the release of new album Fossils and Other Phantoms. An excited and surprisingly robust crowd filled the Garage's cavernous space with anticipatory fervour, the ardour steadily mounting throughout support from The Mariner's Children and Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards. Now, I'm not going to lie. I was here to see Peggy Sue, thus the aforementioned antecedents were not much more than background noise to me (beautiful noise, but background noise nonetheless).
Following a spate of monthly outputs and EP releases, Peggy Sue have finally released a full-length album, and boy was it worth the wait. With all the humour and folksy charm that defined their earlier sound, this winsome three-piece have crafted a mature, country-blues tinged canon, full to bursting with new, impressive material. Deftly avoiding the mistake so many bands make when showcasing new albums, Peggy Sue played a balanced mix of old favourites, album tracks and brand spanking new fare, thus maximising and maintaining the crowd's enthusiasm.
Kicking off with Long Division Blues and new track Yo Mama, Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw's majestic vocals rampaged through a strong, confident set, punctuated by Olly's rousing drums. Hats off to the sound (wo)man at the Garage that night: the levels were pitch perfect, permitting the audience to be enveloped in a many-layered blanket of sound (for this reason, the Garage is fast becoming one of my favourite venues). Multi-instrumentation took a front seat, with Rosa and Katy incorporating guitar, uke, drums and an accordion into the mix, not once appearing gimmicky or cliched. However, it was the sheer vocal power issuing from the girls that really impressed: devoid of sonant gymnastics, each song was delivered directly, in rich tones that leave the listener utterly in awe. Their harmonies weave between each other with such precision that it can only be a result of natural, organic chemistry. Nothing engineered could be so simultaneously slick and raw.
New single Watchman proved to be as winning live as it plays out on the album, and old favourite Hatstand Blues sounded as fresh as ever. With effortless humour and self-deprecating charm, Peggy Sue seemed utterly thrilled just to be there: any ego was left firmly at the door. So good were they, I managed to forget that I was practically standing in the doorway of the men's crapper. An almighty achievement, I can tell you. The set ended with a zealous version of personal favourite The Sea The Sea, before the the band returned to the stage to perform an encore (Katy quipping that they'd planned one, so they were going to play one, quickly, before the crowd stopped clapping) featuring the beautiful Lover Gone, and a special all-hands on deck performance of Trouble.
It will be no surprise to fans of Peggy Sue to hear how enchanting they were on this miserable March evening. Not a fan? Head over to Myspace and get that remedied, quick-smart.
Fossils and Other Phantoms is out now, and can be purchased here.
To see full photo album from the night, click here.