Friday, 2 December 2011

A Little Piece of Cherry Pie

by George Bate


Although there are four members in The Jezabels, at least fifty percent of the audience here are only interested in one. Lead singer Hayley Mary, clad tonight all in black with tight torn leather trousers and a curious vest and arm warmers combination, is fast garnering a reputation as one of indie rock’s most talked-about front women. Somehow a little dorky, but keenly aware of her burgeoning status as an alternative sex symbol, she cuts an intriguing figure tonight as she prowls sultrily across the stage.

The set begins with the looming title track from their recent debut album, The Prisoner, a doom-laden slow-burner that clearly aims for larger venues than The Jezabels are playing to tonight and reached number two in their native Australia. There is a minimum of crowd banter from the band, but they are clearly eager to please, playing all the fan favourites, and come across endearingly, apparently thrilled to be playing to such a large crowd in London.

Whilst it’s clearly that Hayley Mary is the centre of attention, not to mention the rest of the group would be to do them a disservice, as they are far from workmanlike. Guitarist Sam Lockwood’s brooding whirl of sound, with the help of Heather Shannon’s keyboards, fills the space without the need for a bassist. It’s clear, however that the most musically talented is drummer Nik Kaloper who plays with a virtuosity that suggests a grounding in jazz or (more likely) technical metal.

Mid-set, the audience explodes in to cheers and applause at the opening notes of “A Little Piece”, the song that more than any other has propelled The Jezabels to stardom, after being featured in a video by UK bicycle trials star Danny Macaskill. It’s this song that conveys best what the band are about – soaring melodies and catchy hooks but with a tinge of sadness or desire for some feeling that has passed. This is a band that reaches for the heartstrings, both with the music and Hayley Mary’s simmering performance. Catch them in such small venues while you can folks, because they’re not going to be playing them for long.