14 September 2011
Live | Reviews

Peggy Sue – The Lexington, London

Brighton folkies' show is more like a milestone birthday bash than an album launch

Words Chloe Warnock

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“Do we look dressed up enough for our sophomore album?” Much giggling and remarks are being traded on stage by Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex, who in between telling us how ‘elated’ they are to be here let slip that it’s all nerves really. They’re celebrating the launch of Acrobats tonight, but it feels more like we’re at a milestone birthday party than an album launch (it later becomes apparent, when we are invited to sing happy birthday to Rosa’s mum, that there is in fact a ‘proud Mum and Dad’ area by the bar).

All of this might feel faintly nauseating if the band hadn’t made such bold moves from a fairly subdued first offering in Fossils and Other Phantoms, to create a more distinct and complex album second time of asking. It would seem that they have grown up in line with it, seeing as, for example, they couldn’t even play the guitar when they first formed and now they come armed with two electric beauties on which they bust out simplistic yet feisty riffs in a style owing a debt of influence to the likes of The Breeders. The vocal harmonies, comprising the raw, gravelly tones of Rosa’s voice with Katy’s smooth and bluesy coos, remain at the forefront of their songs and are a stronger force than ever — combined, they exude a raw animal quality akin to a young PJ Harvey, evoking feelings of angst via intelligent, articulate lyrics compounded by the layering up of three sets of percussion during Song and Dance and Funeral Beat, in turn creating an enthralling, three-dimensional live experience.

They have also acquired a fully-fledged ensemble, having ditched the accordion in favour of a cellist, a violinist and a new bassist/percussionist to sit alongside full-time drummer Olly Joyce. They use the newly-expanded line-up to progressively layer up and strip down various aspects of the songs, even creating a looped a capella of ‘Hit The Road Jack’ midway through ‘Shadows’, such variation ensuring that nothing sounds routine. Ever the consciously self-effacing sorts, the girls wonder aloud if they aren’t trying to be ‘too clever’ in their experimentation, but the self-doubt should soon be a thing of the past on the strength of shows as good as these.

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