Portland Arms, Cambridge, 22/11/2021
published: 12 /
Nige Nudds watches and photographs up-and-coming Fenne Lily’s captivating set at a packed Portland Arms in Cambridge.
Opening singer Katie Malco plays songs from her debut album released last summer. Her lyrics captivate the audience from the off, and are framed by a stunning voice and impeccable left-handed guitar playing. Her cover of Kate Bush’s 'Cloudbusting' is a wonderfully stripped back version and is slower, more soulful and just plain lovely . She is accompanied only by her electric guitar and a ‘bontempi’ type of sound machine and is very impressive and funny. Katie loves talking in-between songs and she even sings a Christmas song 'Be Good at Christmas' mid set!
Fenne Lily’s music is mostly of the soft melancholic kind, with whispering but clear vocals, and downbeat electric guitar, neatly interspersed with more upbeat fuzzy guitar songs, soaring vocals and the tendency to rock out such as on 'Alapathy' and 'Solipsism'.
Fenne plays songs from her album 'Breach' which was released last September so now she’s thrilled to play it. Starting slowly with the gentle 'Someone Else’s Trees', her voice is what really stands out as the main draw. The brilliant 'Car Park' follows and then 'Hypochondriac' ups the pace a little with the fine line "These complications I have with my health only go as far as I take them." 'Berlin' consists of guitar riffs and chords that seemingly wander slowly in a haze before the instrumentation explodes like a soft heart crying out for answers. Written during her time in Berlin on a solo adventure learning to be by herself, the lyrics are simple. The words"‘It’s not hard to be alone anymore" are repeated throughout, as though her time away and alone is defined by this simple reality. Switching from electric to acoustic, Fenne launches into the brilliantly-titled anthem 'I Used To Hate My Body, Now I Just Hate You' which really unites the audience and makes its mark.
Just before the encore, the drummer has the call of nature, so Fenne sings an unaccompanied song called 'Bud' and she needs a little bit of help from some of the audience with the word. At times you could hear a pin drop, but this was one of the highlights of the set. The drummer returns and the set finishes with the up tempo 'Solipsism' with the whole band giving it their all in what is a great way to finish.
Fenne Lily and Katie Malco are compelling new British songwriter’s that both have good, friendly competition with US singers Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. Fenne could just be the next big thing in the UK, and she is accompanied by an equally talented band thoroughly enjoying the thrill of live music again.
Photographs by Nige Nudds
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