Emmy The Great, younghusband, ExLovers

Neil Watts 25/02/2009

This gig raised two issues that need addressing before the music can be assessed; the importance, or lack of, of genres and the impact of seated gigs. Firstly, genres; what are they all about, exactly? To a journalist (OK, aspiring journalist) they are an irritation, a distraction from what the music is actually like or about. Far too much time and energy is spent on devising new and normally ridiculous sounding, genres. Emmy the Great has been labelled antifolk, the OK in folk and indie pop, which is quite ambiguous and is probably why there have been misleading comparisons to Laura Marling and her like.

Secondly, what is the correct etiquette for a member of a seated audience? It's fairly difficult to show your full appreciation for the music you've paid to see when you're rooted, uncomfortably to your chair for a couple of hours. It isn't clear whether it is acceptable to be seen tapping your feet, jigging on your chair, or even nodding your head enthusiastically. This has the potential to lead to muted responses and awkward stage presence, as it did on occasions this evening.

Both Younghusband and ExLovers appeared a little inhibited, as though they were being stifled by the overly formal setting. Younghusband have the sound of a band that has chosen to use their prominent American influences to create something unmistakably English. The end product is along the lines of Graham Coxon at his most thoughtful with a fistful of harmonies for company. ExLovers were probably even more pensive, but their delicate and androgynous My Bloody Valentine-esque boy-girl led songs showed great promise, capturing the rhythm of The Cure on their sunnier moments.

Emma-Lee Moss didn't seem to suffer from the same crisis of confidence, perhaps owing to the fact that it was at her request that the gig was seated. Her delivery was measured, and her words clipped and sharp making her seem almost confrontational at times, such is the extent that she portrays her hurt and bitterness. The shimmering guitars that punctuate tracks like the sublime Absentee and the idyllic sounding Easter Parade allow her the freedom to explore her voice as she is surrounded by a rich tapestry of sound. The songs feel as though they should be listened to as the band plug away in a junk shop surrounded by an assortment of instruments and trinkets as the audience peers through dust veiled windows.

Throughout the performance there are parallels to Your Ex-Lover Is Dead by Stars. Her set elaborates on the themes of love and loss allowing the music to walk the avenues that were passed by during the song's taxi ride. Moss systematically unwraps the inner workings of the heart with each passing song and shoots withering put downs with no signs of remorse.