Live Review – GIRLI @ The Castle & Falcon


The Castle & Falcon

Review by SdM


‘Odd One Out’ is the name of GIRLI’s album and subsequent tour. It could equally be applied to Indie Midlands too as this is not ordinarily the kind of music or gig that we would review. Many would suggest, I’m sure, that it’s good for the mind and soul to move outside of your normal ‘sphere’ of music and take a peek at something totally different. To paraphrase sci-fi writer Douglas Adams, “your ears may love you for the rest of your life.” And whilst I wouldn’t quite go that far in my eventual appreciation for Girli it turned out to be something altogether unexpected.

GIRLI is the stage name of Londoner, Milly Toomey. A shock of pink hair, a reversible orange and pink shirt, a malfunctioning matching skirt, and bright green snakeskin cycling shorts leapt on stage with a flash – a vision of bang-up-to-date fashion, no doubt, that I am blissfully unaware. Milly and singing partner, Gracie, bounced, jumped and danced on stage with the boundless energy of a spring lamb after drinking several litres of Red Bull. Their obvious enjoyment and Cheshire grin smiles were genuine and infectious, and the young audience in front of me squealed with delight from the off.

There’s nothing new under the sun, so they say, and set opener ‘Play It Cool’ bears some truth in that. A pastiche of classic 50’s/60’s bubblegum-pop with an added sheen of modern beats and plinky-plonk synths. The sing-along chorus has a sure-footed familiar feel amongst the modern glitz and glitter. The rest of the set proceeded in this manner – it was bright and as colourful as Millie herself, a youthful modern re-take; it was recognizable yet fresh and new. Quasi rap coupled to simple and memorable melodies; accessible takes on modern rhythms and catchy choruses; shout-along chants (containing naughty words!), and spoken-word intros dripping in Poundland bathos. It isn’t setting the world alight, and bearded muso’s won’t be pouring over Girli’s album in 20 years delving into its deeper meaning – but then it is not meant to.

The Britney-style chair moment was a cheesy contrivance, but given the overall effect it didn’t seem to matter – it was part of the teenage soap-opera drama, a little scene-setting that was dismissed within a minute before it’s back to the partying, back to the dancing, back to the fun. It’s not so much, tomorrow’s another day, it’s another minute!

GIRLI is giving a voice to teenage angst – that glorious and painful time in life when you are thrust without your knowing from childhood into becoming (gulp!) an adult. With all the wide eyed possibility of your life stretching before you and the scary reality of making life choices around these other imperfect human beings who, unbeknownst to you, don’t have a clue either. And what is the measure? Only a fraction of a friend’s followers on Instagram? Disaster. Dumped after one date? Tragedy. Cheated on by partner of three weeks? Heartbreak. BFF not talking to you on Twitter? Catastrophe. Wrong colour sparkle of your new sparkly trousers? Don’t go there! For the parents of the youthful throng enjoying the gig it brought it all back; along with a wave of relief that for them it’s all done; long, long gone. Thank god. “How much it hurts to be young,” sings Millie sounding like a battle-cry. You’re welcome to it, but from the safe distance of middle-age it was oddly nice to be reminded of it all.

I will admit, freely as I’m writing under a nom-de-plume, that I was rather won over by GIRLI. My initial stuffy self-distancing was gradually replaced by a realisation that I was the one missing out. It’s pop re-packaged and remodelled for 2019 and it was just as fun, as free, as enjoyable as pop has ever been; and those youngsters at the front dancing with unlimited energy and creak-free knees had the time of their lives.

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