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Emmy the Great - ICA, London, 10/11/2008

  by Laura Holt

published: 28 / 10 / 2008

Emmy the Great - ICA, London, 10/11/2008


Laura Holt watches Emmy the Great play an entrancing set of lyrical-based anti-folk pop at a homecoming gig at the end of a short tour at the London ICA

Emmy the Great venture onto the small ICA stage on the day their single ‘We Almost Had a Baby’ is released. The song - which, characteristically, is about relationships gone by and the ambiguous emotional wreckage left behind in the aftermath - is light on choruses and reflective in its lyrical makeup. It is difficult to discern whether it will meet with commercial success for these reasons, but for the moment Emma Lee Moss and her five-man-band have the audience entranced. The atmosphere is more akin to a poetry reading, as the motionless crowd hangs on every word that resonates down the microphone. This is melodious lyricism at its best, with words spun together to tell humorous and strange tales of lost loves. Each song acts as a short story, which when heard collectively, form a deeply rich tapestry of thoughts and feelings. Some lines are intentionally obscure, but others have a striking clarity which explains why the band have garnered a strong following. Inkeeping with the anti-folk tradition, playful lines like "I’m more upset than when S Club 7 broke up" fend off pretension. And although the speakers pump out Barack Obama support tunes in between the support act and the main feature, the music is politically vacuous by comparison with classical sixties folk music. Emma herself is disarmingly sweet in her appearance - ribbons wrapped around her shortly cropped hair - making the delivery of lines like; "The morning fills my mouth up with decay. But I like it. It reminds me how you taste" all the more difficult to swallow. She speaks softly with a bashful confidence during interludes, offering at one point to engineer a stand up conversational for five minutes to keep the crowd entertained while others go grab a drink from the bar located outside the theatre. “It’s like playing a gig during prohibition” she jokes. “What kind of an Arts venue doesn’t have a bar in the auditorium?”. I meet up with Emma in the bar afterwards. She drinks tea, while the rest of us gulp whisky and wine, presumably to protect her voice. She seems deflated, feeling the gig hasn’t gone as well as previous nights on their mini-tour of New York, Glasgow and Manchester. The steady stream of compliments from stray well-wishers would have her think otherwise though.

Picture Gallery:-
Emmy the Great - ICA, London, 10/11/2008

Emmy the Great - ICA, London, 10/11/2008

Emmy the Great - ICA, London, 10/11/2008

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