Amy Studt plus special guest Adam from Fat White Family As ‘One Man Destruction Show’

Thursday 23rd July 2015

 The Islington, Islington, London United Kingdom 

How’s this for a setlist, readers? Violently / SleepWalker / Overdose / Trouble’s Coming In / Different Colour Pills / Let The Music Play / Suffocated Life / I Was Jesus In Your veins…angsty enough for you?

The great songwriting artist that is Amy Studt returns to the stage with new material and some associates and it’s soon clear that again she has moved into new territory and with an ambience that is at times quite stark and unsettling. Her last full album ‘Paper Made Men’ had a lot of memorable songs and there were some fulfilling promotional shows at that time. A few years on and whatever has happened to her in the interim has darkened her song output considerably.

Of course, it’s brilliantly done. Alone at the electric piano for the first number, Studt almost seems like a school teacher arriving to take a class, composed and solemn. As the show progresses, Amy is joined by another female vocalist and a female singer/electric guitarist plus a percussionist who appears to have appeared by a time machine from a Monkees TV show set but plays with cool precision and with a dynamic sense of what each piece needs. Studt does not play guitar tonight but her colleague has an eerie line in Twin Peaks/Duane Eddy gone icy single note figures and gentle arpeggio chords . The vocal harmonies are well-rehearsed and effective ; Studt herself sometimes switches suddenly from a plaintive vocal delivery to a strident but still tuneful howl, not unlike Bjork in sound and impact. One song is about a girl that Amy used to hang with and sounds wistful – ‘ planning for weeks and months to make this dream come true’..and ‘Trouble Is Coming In’ conjures up a chilling ‘Wicker Man’ vibe, solemn drumbeat and all. The single ‘Different Colour Pills’ is an anguish-ridden piece, very Kate Bush at her most saturnine. A faster tempo is employed for ‘Suffocated’. Then ‘I was Jesus..’ has two guitars and a disembodied fast rap passage or two. It’s striking and clearly heartfelt.

So four people – not one of whom looked relaxed – with a well-drilled set of somewhat dour songs, fine harmonies and many beautiful moments, but how will this appeal to new listeners ? It’s hard to tell at this point…and though Studt is never going to grab a tambourine and lead us all in a singalong of ‘500 Miles’, a few lighter moments in a set sure would benefit the more dramatic selections. Also, I don’t care if this sounds Old School but you should never ever leave a stage without naming and thanking your fellow’s basic politeness. BTW Mr Studt, Amy’s father is there and a lovely chap he is, I remember meeting him at the Ginglik show. We spoke briefly tonight and he seemed proud, so he should be with a truly creative performer in the family

An EP is promised for October and a full album for 2016. I am looking forward to that.

In passing the show was opened by Adam presenting what he called his ‘One Man Destruction Show’. In cowboy hat and bashing a guitar with some occasional reedy

harmonica, no number was safe. Our man thrashed his way through his own material and a Cramps tune, but always disregarding the tune. Chuck Berry would never have recognised ‘You Never Can Tell’, all melody discarded as this toe-tapping jukebox classic turned toe-curler, the spirit of old-time out-there tune destroyer The Legendary Stardust Cowboy evoked every few bars. (YouTube the Cowboy, unbelievers)

Pete Sargeant

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(Thanks Cat and thanks Amy for doing a 20 Questions for us. These will be published soon)