Angela Gordon / The Hounds of Love Band

The Duchess, York

4 April 2009

My first time at the Duchess in York. It's very similar to Fibbers. In fact, it's identical to Fibbers, only three times the size. In fact, it's right next door to Fibbers. And the gig list posted outside... that's exactly the list you used to see posted outside Fibbers (right next door). I mean... huh?

Anyway, it's got a great sound. Though the audience tonight is a little small and seems lost in the cavernous space (they would have nicely filled Fibbers... right next door...). The positive side of a small audience in a large space was that I could see the stage between bodies no matter where I stood, so I stood far enough back to get a perfect sound balance, found a convenient pillar to lean against, and still saw the stage perfectly. (I wonder how the sound was for the Mostly Autumn fanatics (yes, you know who you are) leaning up against the stage?)

The only bad thing about the venue is that the crowd was one of the nosiest I have ever known at a gig. While a fair number stood and listened to Angela's set, a large contingent sat at the back and talked loudly and even played pinball and table football all the way through it! Honestly... [insert Grumpy Old Rant about noisy audiences].

Ok, forget audiences, let's talk about the gig.

Angela Gordon.

Being completely honest, I thought Angela's performance was rusty. There were a couple of false starts, a couple of obvious errors, and times when she was concentrating on her piano so much that she moved off her microphone and her voice dropped out.

But her voice... her voice was beautiful. She sang as well as ever, actually even better than ever, her voice sounding stronger and, well, just beautiful.

Her set lasted half an hour and was something like this:

Given Time, Waiting for the Snow, Round and Round — all from "Offerings", of course.

Island — an old song, she played this at her first solo gig and it must have been memorable because I still recognise the melody three (three!) years later.

Something new... (I didn't catch the title)

Four and Twenty Moons — a newer song I recognised from her Fibbers gig a year ago.

Love is a Series of Scars — a cover of a song by Duke Special (sorry, I've never heard of him). Angela sings it superbly and it really shows off the strength of her voice. This is something I would like to see on her soon-to-be-released (hint, hint!) solo album.

So, not a perfect performance, but the obvious cure for rustiness is plenty more gigs (that's another hint!), particularly as her voice seems to be going from strength to strength. And next month supporting Fairport she will be perfect

* * *

The Hounds of Love Band.

Ok, I was 14 when Kate Bush was first on Top of the Pops. That's not something you forget very easily. It was a few years later that I realised she also wrote exquisitely beautiful music.

So, The Hounds of Love Band play Kate Bush's songs. That's all they do. I was intrigued but unsure about this whole "tribute band" thing. Why settle for anything less than the "real thing"?

Well... Josie Mills is phenomenal. It's like listening to Kate Bush. Not just the same voice, she has the same vocal mannerisms and phrasing... if you close your eyes, it is Kate Bush on the stage.

She is backed by a superb band of five guys (keys, drums, bass, two guitars) who handle the songs perfectly — when you think that many of these songs aren't written for a five-piece rock band, you realise how good these guys must be to carry them off so convincingly.

The band also has a great rapport with the audience and a good stage presence. And they all seem to be enjoying the gig. As if they love these songs as much as we do...

I'm not going to give a set list — you could probably write it yourself, with a bit of thought (bet you don't think of Mrs. Bartolozzi, though!) The only complaint is that an hour and a quarter is too short to play when you have such a great body of work you could include.

And as the cleverly-structured set built in momentum to a climax with (inevitably) Wuthering Heights, I felt that I was in the best gig I have ever seen.

I honestly wasn't expecting that.

So forget the tribute band/real thing question. What you have here is a set of the greatest songs of the last 30 years, sung by a woman with a perfect voice more than capable of doing them justice. I'm never going to see Kate Bush singing these songs in this lifetime but I'm perfectly happy to hear the phenomenal Josie Mills singing them. I would love to see her again.

So. I've just heard a whole set of some of my favourite songs. Let's try the what-am-I-singing-as-I-leave-the-venue test...

Waiting for the Snow.