Oslo, Hackney – 24th February 2016
Delivering a punchy one-two combo in Hackney’s trendy restaurant-come-bar-come-live music venue are spunky Brixton support act Misty Miller and northern Romanticists The Crookes. In two sets packed full of crunching guitars and catchy vocal hooks there is plenty on offer here from two artists who collaborated last year on the latter’s B-Side single Ex-Lovers, and tonight they rattle through an uplifting batch of hits-in-waiting with visceral aplomb.
Misty Miller slips on stage with an unassuming nonchalance as she straps on a guitar and throws out an offhand greeting to the modest gathering assembled in the East London venue. Slender and willowy, she packs bundles of attitude, musical talent and effortless charisma into her small frame, and belts out her collection of tunes with a voice that is worthy of the likes of Patti Smith and Chrissi Hynde. As always, the band look like they’re on the back end of an unforgivingly raucous night out, having spent the early hours of the morning kipping on a mate’s sofa, but it doesn’t stop them from tearing through a delightfully invigorating set.
Misty herself continues to be a revelation and an enigma. At the age of just 21 she carries a musical wisdom and easy, unassuming stage presence that bely her years. Following several rapturously received festival appearances last summer and with UK tours that seem to expand in ever-widening circles of venues and cities she looks destined for big things; alongside support from a host of top DJs, including Radio 1’s Annie Mac, her increasingly rapid rise seems nailed on to achieve crossover success before long. Or at least before most of her peers have finished university.
But, true to form, tonight she seems intent on doing what she can to shun any thoughts of a mainstream image, dressed inconspicuously in plaid shirt and baggy trousers, with hair dyed dark red tied back to complete an image that is unashamedly, authentically grunge rock and feminist in a refreshingly positive way.
The band barrel through upbeat belter Happy and new single Next To You, both of which are delivered with all the bite and sharp sense of irony we’ve come to expect from a singer who doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to her lyrical content and social views.
They then pause to draw breath with new offering You Can’t Date A Model, which Misty shyly reveals was written about fellow band member/partner Tom Shelton, and showcases her wry sense of humour (“Don’t need to get married, maybe you could just join my band”), before launching in to the anthemic Best Friend that no doubt has punters around the room reminiscing longingly about lost friendships. All the while permanently shirtless bassist Charlie Elliott struts across the stage, bobbing a head that periodically sports a large, furry Russian-style hat. They leave a jubilant audience feeling well satiated for their pop punk fix.
Headliners The Crookes come with swagger, but also charm and humility, announcing themselves with an easy confidence courtesy of bold set opener Where Did Our Love Go?. With the venue filling up the Sheffield quartet ramp up the intensity and the volume with an arsenal of tunes that has seen them gain a string of celebrity admirers, from their home city’s own Jon McClure and Richard Hawley, to BBC Radio’s Steve Lamacq and Jarvis Cocker.
Fresh from the release of their much anticipated new LP Lucky Ones, they are in fine fettle tonight, oscillating between up tempo, infectiously danceable tunes (The World Is Waiting) and heartbreakingly melodic indie (If Only For Tonight). With bright synths and jangly guitars they are a curious and shameless melange of ‘80s influences, never more evident than on new track Roman Candle, which sounds like Morrissey crooning over a meaty keyboard-driven chorus that could have come straight out of The Cure’s back catalogue.
Lead singer George Wait commands the stage with all the frontman bravado we’ve come to expect from the likes of the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, while also sporting the luxurious strawberry blond locks of a ‘70s footballer and the kind of down to earth good looks that lend themselves conveniently to indie rock pin up status. But what continues to connect them to their fans and inspire such devotion is the quality of their lyrics, for which they have even earned praise from the legendary cantankerous Noel Gallagher. As if by way of thanks to the gathered faithful they throw in debut single A Collier’s Wife, prompting a predictably rapturous reception.
With hooks so big they could raise the titanic and an live set that could whip even a reluctant bystander into a whirl of sweaty passion, it’s hard not to imagine them rocking out in some stadiums around the country one day. Catch them at an intimate venue near you while you still can.
Words: Henry Wickham