Review by Mark Wakeman
The Flapper looks set to close in January. Having first been here in the late 80’s when the venue went by the name The Longboat, tonight looks as though it may well be my my final visit here barring a late stay of execution.
Opening act Comic Sans are Lauren and Rachel two second year university students from Lincoln. In brightly coloured outfits it was clear they were out to have fun and performed a lively set to a backing track with Rachel on lead vocals and Lauren on backing vocals and guitar. If you crossed Let’s Eat Grandma with Birmingham girl duo Miss World you’d get some idea of what Comic Sans were like. They had Lets Eat Grandma’s dance movements but with the fun performance of Miss World.
Both girls were clearly competent performers despite maybe not appearing to be that serious and opening tracks ‘We Are Rebels’, ‘Holiday’ and ‘Morning Haze’ went down well. A cover of Florence and the Machine’s ‘Patricia’ showed that Rachel had a good voice when singing a more serious song.
The girls returned to original material with ‘Until the Sunrise’ and ‘Fall to the Floor’ before ending their set with ‘Character Assassination’ the title track of their debut album which they were launching the very next day back in Lincoln.
As soon as they had finished they bounded off the stage and started chatting to the audience asking people what they thought of their set and if it was any good. They had an infectious likability about them so hopefully they will succeed with their music as they will be a fun and entertaining act to see again.
Next up were Birmingham duo Kate Watson and Adam Wakefield aka the creatively named Liars at The Witch Trial. The band have played a fair number of local gigs since forming back in 2017 but I think this is the first time I had seen them live. Imagine The White Stripes but with the roles reversed as Adam plays drums whilst Kate plays guitar and sings. They delivered an impressive set drawing heavily on this year’s ‘Stormy Seas’ as well as performing a new as yet untitled song.
Kate with her dark eye shadow had a moody hint of the intensity of a young Annie Lennox in her performance and Adam was thunderous behind the drums to such an extent that one of his sticks broke midsong.
Certainly very different from the opening act but very impressive.
Paper Vulture an unsigned band from Birmingham were the chief support. They are a four piece with a new member Callum on drums. Rachel on lead vocals had the cool look of a rock chic off to a tee with her Pulp Fiction T-Shirt, knee high boots, kimono type robe and long cascading curly hair. They played a great set of bluesy rock numbers and are the sort of band that would go down a storm opening for an established act at a venue like the Robin 2 in Bilston.
They were an impressively tight band running through ‘Magician’, ‘Groove’ and the rather dark ‘7’ which was written about a Netflix documentary that Rachel had watched about a woman who had killed 7 men. ‘Throw Me a Book’ slowed things down a bit before the set hit it’s peak with ‘Money Man’ and finished strongly with the sleazy blues rock of ‘Freak Show’.
Meggie Brown had been walking around the gig in a de-mob type pinstripe suit looking a cross between Damon Albarn, one of the original Peaky Blinder police mugshots from the 1900’s, Jack Wilde who played Artful Dodger in the 1968 musical Oliver and with shades of Steve Marriott from the Small Faces. She took to the stage to be joined by an ever growing number of musicians which ended up as an eight piece by the time they were ready to start. Some of the band were in cowboy hats, others were in Sailor hats – the last time I saw this many on the stage was Modern Romance on Top of the Pops circa 1982 and one male backing singer in drag looked a ringer for Quentin Crisp from the Naked Civil Servant. This was certainly going to be an interesting performance to review.
With the Blur and Small Faces thoughts in my head, the first few songs had that sort of vibe with a heavy dose of Madness, especially with the impressively large band, and even a hint of the bizarreness of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. The crowd were clearly up for a good time and Meggie and co were out to put on a great show.
After the opening ‘D for Danny’ and ‘Love Pinch’ we were treated to ‘Salute Me’ which was just a great pop song. ‘Sunny Side’ and next single ‘Boys Boys Boys’ were well received too. Things really went up a notch from good to a great gig with ‘Pearly Gates’. This song started as a ballad which showcased Meggie’s impressive voice but built into a wonderful gospel like sing-a-long.
From then on the momentum never wavered as the band all shone on the epic ‘Cherry Town’ which had a B-52’s flavour to it but the band’s incredible energy and versatility reminded me of 1990’s US band Rocket From The Crypt.
A truly memorable evening ended with ‘Centipede’. If you can ever catch Meggie live you will go home singing “It’s a right foot, left foot centipede”. The song finished with Meggie atop one of her guitarists on the floor screaming into his face.
Meggie Brown is truly a genre and gender defining artist.