Sunday 6 July 2008

The Favours / The Cherry Brakewells at The Ramshackle

Favours publicity shot (by Bratman)

Cherry Brakewells publicity shot

There have been a whole series of unrelated unfortunate events that have led to this band playing this gig at this time, and my being here to see them. But great things can be born from adversity.

The Favours are a band that I have championed for several years. I think that their combination of great songs, smart playing and (let’s be honest), extremely photogenic singer should have been their passport to the bigger time well before now. That this has not happened is a combination of bad luck, bad management and the startling indifference of the public at large, who don’t appear to recognise a good thing when they happen across it.

The band had been due to play the Borderline this evening, but suddenly found themselves without a record label after being unexpectedly and unjustifiably dumped. Their abrupt pariah status means that the Borderline wouldn’t touch them and they have had to come down to the newly-opened Ramshackle to play on a scratch bill of diverse acts.

I had been at the Wimbledon tennis championships and, because the weather was foul, was both at a loose end and in the area.

So here we all are. When I arrive, The Favours have already started their set. And once again, they are really good. And once again, there are very few people here to see them.

Diminutive singer / guitarist Sara Sanchez stands centre stage in a fetching combo of summer dress and big boots. She stomps around the stage, trying her best to maintain her temper. It is a very sticky evening, and the heat is certainly getting to all of us.

Bassist Martin Knight grins happily as usual, lending harmonies, and there is also a neat performance from newish guitarist Chris Marsay.

As ever, the songs are the thing, and old favourites like ‘Kill’ and ‘Sick Of It’ are alternated with newies such as ‘One Up On You’ which indicate that the now stalled prospective album is going to be a cracker, if they can get it out. This is pop rock at its pop rockiest, a guaranteed mood elevator. They end with a squall of feedback and clamber down off the stage.

The Favours are eventually replaced by The Cherry Brakewells, who are an entirely different kettle of kittens.

Here we have four gals who play a slow and sulphurous blues music that would sound great booming out over a Louisiana bayou, preferably accompanied by strong liquor. Hell, it sounds pretty damn good in a sweltering room near Putney Bridge.

Rhythm guitarist and nominal front woman Shay has a tremendous voice and an easy, languid movement that fairly oozes sex. She certainly gets my mojo working anyway. This is not to disparage the other members of the band – the tall and elegant Monique on bass and ex-model Chi on drums. You get the feeling that this band could sell posters if the record opportunities don’t materialise.

Tonight they are joined on a nifty lead guitar by a petite girl who is rather cruelly introduced as ‘Token’, and who is obviously slightly ill at ease with the slow bump and grind of the others. However, it is her solo-ing that adds the requisite edge to their sound and one hopes that she settles in.
The Cherry Brakewells peform a fine set, and the temperature, whch was high in any case, goes up even further.

The evening may have started in adversity, but it has been an enjoyable night. Two bands who are worthy of your attention.

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