Live: Polly & The Billets Doux @ The Living Room, Cambridge

The Living Room is a brilliant little evening of music that occurs (usually) on the first Friday of each month in the basement of a bistro in the less glamorous end of Cambridge town. It’s probably the city’s best-kept musical secret, and there’s no avoiding the feeling that you’re being let in on something quite special as you leave the chattering crowds dining on the ground floor and descend into a small room lined with cushions and rugs upon which the audience are seated.

Of particular interest on tonight’s billing is Winchester quartet Polly & The Billets Doux. Their debut album, Fiction, Half-Truths & Downright Lies, has received a sufficient amount of fervour to make me excited and curious in equal measures in anticipation of their set this evening.

Taking to the performing area (not quite a stage), the three chaps of the band arrange their instruments and microphones, with front lady Polly stepping towards her own microphone for a quick sound check. They announce that they’ve spent the past few hours sitting for far too long in traffic between recording with BBC Cambridgeshire Introducing and this gig, before filling the room with a swelling bluesy-jazz that should almost be called Americana, really.

Polly’s vocals are faultlessly strong and, despite her prettily frocked appearance, charged with an attitude that pushes the set on. The stomping ‘Follow My Feet’ has the majority of the audience moving (as much as one can when perched on a cushion), and is joined by ‘Don’t Trouble Trouble’ and ‘To Be A Fighter’ as the particularly noteworthy performances of the evening, although the whole set is really very enjoyable. The night concludes with an a capella, unplugged, solitary performance by Polly of an unknown (?) song that beautifully shows off her mighty vocal abilities.

If the polished sound of the album doesn’t float your musical boat, I suggest experiencing the edgier energy of Polly & The Billets Doux live. Preferably in a barn, so we can all have a nice dance.