4th March 2022
A.A. Williams & Support: Jo Quail
Lafayette is a fairly new venue around the back of Kings Cross Station near to Granary Square. I’ve no idea how long it’s been there, a year maybe, but when I got the chance to go see JO QUAIL support A.A. WILLIAMS at the venue I jumped at the chance.
It’s only a short walk or bus ride from home so if I got bored it wouldn’t take too long to get home. The venue is ok, actually. There’s a bar come restaurant on the ground floor and the actual venue is downstairs in the basement. What’s it like I hear you ask? Well, their website touts them as being like the Shepherds Bush Empire only smaller. When you enter the stage area you notice that it is wider than it is long. There’s a good size stage that’s at waist height off the floor. There’s a balcony on all three sides which I couldn’t go up to because it was shut. There’s a mixing desk at the back centre stage and a bar in the far corner. The sound mixing throughout the sets was excellent. I thought the reverb would be a lot stronger due to the shorter travelling distance.
My only big gripes are as follows. I do not subscribe to cashless transactions. I do not subscribe to my choice to choose cash or card taken away. I do not subscribe to my spending habits being tracked electronically. I also hate venues that make zero effort to offer any sort of alcohol-free beer or wine to those punters who are either driving, want to mix up their drinking or who are taking medication. I find this to be short sighted and lazy. If you want to get drunk then fill your boots. If you want to have an alcohol-free beer, stay in control of your faculties and drive home then sod you, have a coke!!
And now to the music. JO QUAIL was on top form as usual. She was playing a short set using her new Boss RC600 looping station and older pieces were given new vigour with the new device. The sound for the set was excellent, as I said above and all that attended had a good time, especially the couple who came over from The Netherlands. ‘Laurus’ is a track I’m not as familiar with as the others but I think this would go down well embedded into an enslaved set whilst ‘Rex Infractus’ starts with a frown and morphs into wide eyed pondering. My favourite track was ‘Gold’. I love this when it’s played live because I always look at Jo’s fingers and become absorbed and mesmerised by the sounds that her fingers conjure. There’s a sense of movement and warmth. The movement is fluid and constant and the warmth does not have time to settle, and the piece has a space to it that to me embodies an absorbing solitude! If you are interested to see how ‘Forge’ was put together using the Boss RC600 you can click on the link: https://youtu.be/8DJwWF0UuqI / https://www.joquail.co.uk
A.A. WILLIAMS was next. Like a cross between PJ HARVEY and the silk honey croon of Jarboe they played for the most part on a dark stage with only lighting at the back. Which is bloody annoying for photographs. Low shutter speeds improve the light but also increases blur. And high ISO’s impart noise to the finished product. Ok, I get it! You like playing in the dark or with moody lighting! Fine, I have no issue with that at all. But why not have one or two songs where all on stage at least have soft lights at the front? A few spotlights, maybe? Anyway, as far as the set goes, how would I describe it? Moody dark Gothicana with country twangs that facilitates smoky daydreams.
One minute it’s down low and broody and then the next there’s a sharp upswing, as if something has innervated a defiance against misery. Seeing that it was all dark onstage I didn’t need to hang around to listen so I went for a walkabout and allowed the music to travel with me. The crowd that came this evening, which by the way was a very good one, maybe around 150 people, appreciated what was presented to them and I know from speaking to a few people that had not seen or heard A.A. WILLIAMS before that they’d be exploring the band more fully later on. https://www.aawilliamsmusic.com/
In summary, a good venue in regards to sound, poor in regards to payment options and no alcohol-free beer. That annoyed me! But that said, two great artists tempered my annoyance.
All pictures by Claudia Black