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Pony Boy, Conway And The Bulls At the Satellite, Monday August 10th 2015, Review

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Conway

 

Monday night at the Satellite was a night for women, as I got to see three bands fronted by three pretty blonde girls. Marchelle Brandanini aka Pony Boy opened the evening with her noir country, but played live with a full band and her persistent big smile, it wasn’t so noir after all. I had seen her before in solo, but this time she was surrounded by musicians with guitar, keys, bass and drums, and her sultry voice was more buried in the music than previously. May be this is the reason why I had found her performance more impressive, with a more femme-fatale look, the first time around? Marchelle had dropped a bit of her murder ballad attitude, but she was still super hot, with her impeccable blonde brushing, black leather fringe jacket and high heels western boots, and her so-called ‘Junkyard country’ turned to be a bit more hopeful and less dark than last time, with gospelic back-up vocals. ‘Saint & Liars’, a sprawling-aching ballad sounded particularly enjoyable as did ‘The Devil in Me’ with its ferocious throb and a poignant atmosphere. In a few minutes she evoked a smoky bar ambiance on an old cowboy town, while there was a mix of modernity and classicism in her music and performance,… she dedicated her last song to Duke Ellington (‘Duke Ellington’s Blues’) which showed her range. With song titles such as ‘When Tomorrow never comes’, ‘Nothing’s gonna save you know’, ‘Metal Dreams’, ‘Magnolia’, Marchelle, who is a fan of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, seemed to be the kind of songwriter, coming from a personal and emotional place while trying to expand her universe into a new discovered mythology,

Conway was a completely different story, with a frontwoman on fire, bouncing all over the place, occupying all the stage while envisioning her show as a sort of athletic workout? She was pretty, carefree and bold, wearing a multicolor long fringe robe over some black leather sweat pants and a sport bra, singing over a dynamic indie bouncy pop, and looking damn sexy. She looked a bit like a playful warrior wearing a carnival outfit, ready to spread her new vision ‘I am going to talk about love’, she said while leg-kicking the air, shaking her fringes, and moving like a wild animal. I have read that she is managed by the same company, which handles Katy Perry and Adam Lambert,… an interesting thing, which could question the indie adjective I have just used. The music was tight and almost radio-ready despite a song called ‘shut up’, may be not totally appropriate for the airwaves. Despite the sexiness of the outfit, she didn’t give me the impression she wanted to be one of these over-sexualized young women, she was commanding the stage like a female Iggy Pop or a new Debbie Harry… and the whole thing sounded very happy and upbeat, actually she may be the new Pink?

Then it was time for the August resident band, The Bulls, fronted by violinist and multi-instrumentalist Anna Bulbrook, who has been in other indie bands such The Airborne Toxic Event and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and guitarist Marc Sallis (The Duke Spirit). All dressed up with white pants and shirts, with an additional long black coat for her, their music was slow and melancholic and Bulbrook’s dreamy vocals reminded me of the Cranberries’ vocalist Dolores O’Riordan. It was dramatic guitar music with an occasional soaring violin reinforcing the emotional side of their cinematic soundscapes… a slow motion and ethereal winter-like music in the middle of summer, with some subjacent nervousness, intense bass lines and vulnerable vocals. Anna Bulbrook had a much solemn and ghost-like presence than last time I saw her playing violin with The Airbone Toxic Event, but as it was the case for the previous bands, it was difficult to really categorize her music, may be dream pop with drama? I don’t really agree with the shoegaze qualification they receive everywhere, but who cares about names and genres, when you get a girl-fronted-band lineup all night long.



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