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The Freudian Sluts at The Gunnersbury on Saturday,18th February 2017, Reviewed


If life was perfect, we wouldn’t have musicians such as John Mendelssohn. But you can’t be so outspoken a writer and lyricist without friends, lovers, and family left behind. John was born to write lyrics from the very start.

His childhood observations of his parents’ relationship transposed, later in life, into caustic criticism of his mother’s domineering ways over his father and his own failings as a son. In John’s essays, books, and blog, his writing conveys the cynical tone of a keen observer of life, oversensitive with the kind of empathy that hurts and the accompanying depression that comes with such a gift. Yet within his music, those layers of protective detachment fall away. Making music is what possesses John Mendelssohn. He is driven, going to the gym and practising the drums daily. His latest band, The Freudian Sluts, is his best collaboration yet.

Their music covers an astounding array of subject matter, from the pop tune-smithery of “Barbara’s Brassiere” (“I want to be Barbara’s Brassiere!”) and “I Married a Knobhead” to deeper and darker subjects like the themes of bondage, dominance and submission in “The Story of O.”There are songs that get right to the emotional point, the most raw being the songs addressed to John’s estranged daughter whom he has not seen in 15 years. He cannot talk about these songs without tearing up. “After the Flood” is the one that gets to me the most: “And when the roof collapsed and many were resigned to the cause being lost, I struggled still to find you.” But it is “Lessons In Cruelty” that for John is his most truthful piece.

In our uncertain future of alternative facts, it is relevant that The Freudian Sluts music conveys universal truths.

In songs of supermodels and prostitutes, touching on bulimia, aging, and spousal abuse, John’s lyrics acknowledge a woman’s struggle in this society. All this is presented by the the lead singer Suz de la Luz, 29. One feels no distance between her and the lyrics, which makes Suz the perfect presenter whose verve and energy light up the room.

Andrew Barton is the bassist every band hopes for. Stoic but smiling occasionally, he is the linchpin of the band, keeping the beat in tandem with bandleader Mendelssohn on drums. Dazza Du Toit’s guitar work is evocative and haunting in the right places, as in the song “Alec,” inventive in “I Quake,” and joyful and fun right when we need it. “French Fries for Breakfast” would have any rockabilly fan up on their feet and dancing. On stage, Dazza does not need to take the spotlight as his energy naturally shines through him and his guitar speaks for itself.

If you missed last Saturday in Chiswick, London, UK then you can view the very delightful evening on YouTube. John’s wife, Lady Zelda Hyde charms the audience with Gay Friends and Prostitutes of London.

From the applause and cheers for John, Andrew, Dazza, and Suz de la Luz, it was quite a successful night. The audience had a great time and The Freudian Sluts have arrived.

1 Comment

  1. Liz Miller on February 25, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Wow, haven’t heard the band, but your commentary makes me want to! Very insightful and descriptive writing. If Mendelssohn was born to write lurics/music, you, Elle, were born to write everything else. Bravo!

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