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Hana Piranha
She Makes WarShe Makes War
Underbelly, London
Saturday October 12 2013




It's hard for an opening act to prod a sparse early-doors crowd into some sort of reaction, but with a combination of an upbeat demeanour, a neat line in loops 'n' effects folk-pop, and a marching drum she bought on eBay, Laura Kidd (who is She Makes War) manages to warm up an initially hesitant Underbelly.

Her songs are insistent things, quietly assertive in the way they get under the skin of the listener, while Laura's between-song banter, as she switches instruments and gets her loops revolving, is engaging and inclusive. It's as if she's playing to a bunch of mates. Perhaps Laura Kidd should rename herself She Makes Friends.

If Laura Kidd draws the audience in, Hana Piranha holds the crowd at arm's length and gives it a disdainfully appraising stare. She's a frosty, spiky, don't-mess-with-me rock performer, her fundamental rockness in no way compromised by the fact that she plays a violin. She shreds and grinds like a one-woman Queensrÿche, and rips out a vocal that practically strips the wallpaper.

Her band brew a suitably rockin' backing racket, while keeping their noses clean and their heads down.

I see they're an entirely different bunch from the last Hana Piranha gig I caught. They either have a lot of bizarre gardening accidents - or quite possibly Hana Piranha eats musos for breakfast She's certainly fierce enough.

It's appropriate, in a way, to find Birdseatbaby in this East End basement, for there's something almost Dickensian and street urchin-ish about this band. They're like a bunch of troubadours, plying their melodramatic cabaret numbers around the night spots of la belle époque. A hundred-odd years ago they would've been on the halls. Now they're wedged under a Shoreditch bar, and the époque probably isn't quite so belle. But we do what we can.

Birdeatsbaby songs are works of hand-staple-forehead histrionics - like the swaying, swelling, 'Feast Of Hammers', or rousing, up-and-at-'em singalongs - like 'Incitatus', with its chorus shouts and walloping drums - or, occasionally, wistful little things like 'Ghosts', which arrives in tonight's set like a cloud darting unexpectedly over the sun. The band handle the mood changes with unfailing, unflappable cool, and much sparky audience engagement from Mishkin Fitzgerald, the group's lead singer and pianist, who conducts the proceedings from her keyboard stage-right.
It's interesting to ponder that although a band like Birdseatbaby probably couldn't have happened without punk rock happening first, they're some way outside the usual boundaries of rock 'n' roll.

Their frothy cabaret pulls in influences and ingredients from all over the landscape. And I like the way they distil it down.


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Hana Piranha:
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She Makes War:
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For more photos from this gig, find Birdeatsbaby and Hana Piranha by name here.

Find a Birdeatsbaby interview here, and an album review here.

Page credits: Words, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.

Words and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.