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CloughyThe Priscillas

100 Club, London
Saturday January 15 2011




'Girls just wanna have fun' says the promo blurb for this gig.  This is a night of female-led bands, and in a way it's odd that even though we're now in the twenty-first century the notion that girls can be in bands is still enough of a novelty to be worth flagging up. Maybe the unreconstructed blokishness of rock 'n' roll still needs to be challenged.

Well, here comes our first challenge to the blokishness of rock 'n' roll: Cloughy, a name that always makes me think of legendary Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough - but then, I'm a bloke. This Cloughy is a cheerfully upbeat female singer with an acoustic guitar and a Paul Weller hairstyle. She strums amiably through a set of her own songs, and closes with her take on Nancy Sinatra's 'These Boots Are Made For Walking' - and it's one of those slightly awkward occasions where the cover version rather eclipses the original material. Cloughy's a strong singer, but strong singers need strong songs.

Both those boxes are well and truly ticked for our next artist, however. Kiria has the voice, the songs, and the band - a motley crew of rock 'n' roll ne'er-do-wells which includes, on guitar, the glamourous Sharon Slutt, surely Captain Sensible's long-lost sister.

Kiria also has that essential ingredient of the rock 'n' roll brew: the attitude. She strides onto the stage as if she owns the place, like a punk rock Marilyn Monroe in a red rubber dress that cunningly matches the 100 Club's decor. Ha, yes, the Kiria rubber dress - well, that ensures that every bloke in the place, unreconstructed or not, suddenly pays attention. But then, I think Kiria could command attention if she walked down the street in a coal sack. She has the uncanny - and, for a performer, vital - ability to cause every eyeball in the place to swivel in her direction. But, of course, it's one thing to attract attention. When you've got it, you've got to do something with it.

What Kiria does is dose us up with her fizzing punky firewater. Her songs are energetic, crash-bang-wallop things, all sparky verve and knowing humour. The band rocks up a storm, while Kiria herself, balancing with impressive sang-froid on the highest heels in the house, is an engaging mistress of ceremonies.

She straps on a guitar for some songs (at which point the band features three - count 'em, three - guitars, which together generate an impressive New York Dolls-ish wall of sound), and sings throughout with London-inflected sass and suss.

'Live Sex On Stage' is the showstopper - literally: it's the last song in the set, because although there isn't actually any live sex on stage, it's such a gonzoid anthem - equal parts good old British irony and saucy postcard humour - that you just can't follow it. Fizzing punky firewarter? Downed in one.

The Priscillas are a London thing, too. Garage-punk beat girls, you can imagine them rehearsing in a lock-up round the back of the Ace cafe, and touring on a fleet of BSA Road Rockets (don't spoil it for me - I'd be so disappointed to learn that they actually use a Transit van).

Tonight they let loose their ramalama garage-pop with a certain swagger, a touch of backstreet panache, a sprinkling of glam and a whole lot of - yes, here it comes again, the essential ingredient - attitude.

The band swings through a set of their spiky but unfailingly catchy songs, vocalist Jenny Drag pacing the stage in a slinky cat suit, fixing the audience with an appraising eye, like a rock 'n' roll crimefighter limbering up to wrestle the bad guys. I'm sure a few blokes here tonight are hoping they're bad enough. Mind, they'd have to get past Guri GoGo and her glittery guitar first.

Top Priscillas song tonight has to be the insanely catchy 'All The Way To Holloway', a nimble poptastic confection with the kind of lodge-in-your-brain chorus that I thought bands just didn't write any more. Not only that, it's a bona-fide north London anthem - and, let's face it, there aren't many of those. Somehow the song makes scuzzy old N1 seem strangely glamourous. "They offered me Hollywood, but it could never be as good" sings Jenny Drag, and all of a sudden you findf yourself believing the streets of London are paved with rock 'n' roll.

The Priscillas prowl those streets as if they own them. Perhaps, in the alternative universe of rock 'n' roll, they do.

The Priscillas

The Priscillas: MySpace | Facebook

Kiria: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Cloughy: MySpace

For more photos from this gig, find The Priscillas and Kiria by name here.

Find album reviews for The Priscillas and Kiria here.

Find an interview with Kiria here.

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