Live: Unplugged Sessions at the Windmill, Mayfair

FFS for folk's sake liz green liveWhen a polite young man writes to you offering you a night of brilliant unplugged music, it’s generally a good idea to say yes.  If said young man mentions pie, it’s basically impossible to keep FFS away.

We were delighted by no fewer than five acoustic acts over the course of 200-odd minutes at the Windmill, and a couple of sweet potato, lentil and feta pies into the bargain.  Needless to say, this was a very sensible use of an evening.  So enjoyable that, were it an eligible bachelor, FFS would have married it.

First up, the night’s promoter Samuel Brookes took to the carpet for a couple of ‘warm-up’ songs.  Generally when a promoter plays at their own night we’re not so pleased, but gracious Sam is good.  His gentle, slightly countrified folk is right up our street.  Download his EP, St David’s Hall Live, here for no pounds and no pence.  He’ll be getting the New Bands Panel treatment shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for more.

Next came Howlin’ Lord.  We spied him reading some Hemingway before the music began, and the poet is strong in this one.  The poor lad had a very tired out voice indeed, but his pacy, lyrically fascinating songs had touches of Bob Dylan and the Two Gallants, and were remarkably strong for a man who quite possibly had tonsillitis.

Third was the rather charming Jamie Harrison, who had us thinking about Gideon Conn, Johnny Flynn and fish suppers all at once.  We especially loved his rendition of ‘When the Boat Comes In’ (which you’ve all heard, because a well-known fish company use it to advertise their stuff), and original song ‘The Bear’.  Harrison wasn’t entirely comfortable unplugged, fiddling with an imaginary microphone stand and resorting to a ‘vanity amp’, but he wasn’t attacked by advertising standards officials, so we’re guessing he got away with it.

Liz Green (pictured), who won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition back in 2007, took her turn next.  Her unnervingly unique voice, darkly-tinged lyrics and whimsical, eccentric performance style rubbed us up the right way entirely.  Her badly behaved guitar, pen-and-paper ‘video’ and rendition of ‘Who Killed Cock Robin’ combined to make this one of the most memorable live performances FFS has seen in a long time.  Oh, and she wore a robin’s head at one point.  Yep – what a woman.

After all that, Cocos Lovers squeezed themselves into the cosy patch of carpet that served as a stage to bring proceedings to a searingly lovely conclusion.  Reduced from their customary 8 to a conservative 5, this Deal-based band of ladies and gentlemen delivered harmonies that soared all the higher for following a procession of solo acts.

They’re a consistently healthy-looking group of young people whose friendly, assured style of performing rounded off an utterly splendid Monday evening.  They’re favourites of ours, and yours, having won the 2010 FFS Schmercury Prize.

Playing a mix of beloved favourites from Johannes as well as a few rather lovely newbies, including the out-and-out depressing ‘Gin Song’ and ‘Elephant Lands’.  We hear there’s a new album of the same name due on 15th July. As if there wasn’t enough excitement already.