Live Review: Dolittle / She Makes War

22nd June - The Hope and Anchor, Islington

Friday night in Islington saw a wicked night out put on at The Hope and Anchor by Goodsouls Promotions with a second gig in the last year or so from the brilliant Dolittle, supported by one of London's most hardworking performers, She Makes War.

Now, there's two diehard Dolittle / EAT fans at Gigseen and this was in fact the second Dolittle gig we've checked out in the last 12 months - the earlier being in Kingston just before Christmas (check write-up here). So to some extent we knew what to expect, and got it - An hour of great tunes old and new carried off by Ange Dolittle, G and Rich in their own inimitable fashion.

The support slot was ably filled by She Makes War (aka Laura Kidd) who did a fine job of showing off some tracks from her latest LP (Little Battles) and some too from her 2010 debut Disarm. Honestly - I have no idea how people can stand up in front of a bunch of folks with nothing more than a pair of lungs, a guitar and a loop pedal or two. Takes some nerve for sure, I guess this is why I file myself as a 'meta-musician' (polite way of saying I enjoy 2nd hand and write about music instead ..).

It is frankly amazing however what can be done with said loop effects though. She Makes War manages to use such tech to full effect on Delete (and closer Scared To Capsize)) without detracting in any way from the simple fact of having a cracking voice - Less a gimmick than an exceptionally effective tool capable of creating some wonderful textures. Irony abounds nicely with the lyric "Don't like to repeat myself" in Delete, very cool touch.

Verdict: Check out She Makes War whenever you get the chance, she's doing something slightly unusual live - a different kettle of fish entirely from her studio stuff (which is also pretty damn fantastic) - and is highly entertaining, charismatic and well worth hearing play, seeming to suit 'cosy' venues like the Hope and Anchor down to a tee.

And so on to Dolittle - of all the acts I see, for me these guys are the ones I enjoy live the most. Yes, I get thoroughly impressed and enthused checking out great performances from upcoming bands that only a few people know of, but when it comes down to it, if I had to chose a 'desert-island-gig' it would have to be combination that Dolittle gives; mixing up new tunes with reworks of older ones from the back catalogue of Ange's songs from EAT, WKWYL, BYM etc from that last 25 (25!) years. That's back far enough to land on my 'formative' years: That chunk of time between ages 18-25 when everything you're really into at the time gets indelibly ingrained and labelled 'nothing gets better than this' in the brain.

Everything you'd expect from a Dolittle gig was there, so no disappointments at all. Me & Libby, Made of Water, Walking Man, Tenement Life, Shame and Epicure all for me were stand-out tracks, simply as they're among my favourites in any shape or form. Singing along activity was undertaken. Singing along activity was maintained.

Ever entertaining, a few other highlights have to be mentioned. Firstly a name for the upcoming 2nd album: "The Irresistible Charm Of Baby Owls" no less, and a couple of hints of what's on it ... Whoohoo! Secondly, not only did we get a break in the set for a quick smoke but also a requested loo break was done for one lucky audience member, which was absolutely hilarious as we all waited. In the words of the song that followed (My Idea Of Fun) - "You had to go ... ". Classic. Thirdly, Ange pointing out a couple present who had actually met as a Dolittle gig, married and the groom even included lyrics from Epicure in his wedding speech, presumably;

"Everything I wanted, everything I ever needed, all I gotta see is standing here in front of me"

A wonderful story. I've said it many a time before - this kind of thing it what really makes small venues SO different from arena/stadium gigs. Wouldn't trade it for the world to be honest. It's impossible to imagine anything similar occuring at a big concert - somehow it would just devolve into cheese.

So anyway, yes, the music .... an all too short set in five parts overall when two encores and two breaks considered, and the guys finished off (if my memory recalls correctly) with the obnoxiously cranky Confessions Of A Thug bringing a wicked night out to a close. Once more two Gigseen attendees left more than happy and hopefully have the second album release to look forward to in the upcoming months. Meantime, will just have to do with a dodgy recording of Dolittle's first set, and also one from She Makes War.

What more can be said? .... Bring on The Owls!