Having checked out Eliza's website beforehand I was prepared for an evening of non-traditional music so the experience didn't disappoint my expectations. Resembling nothing so much as a French night club band with a splash of Weimar cabaret and influences from, amongst others, 1980s pop culture, the band deftly rolled from number to number. Phil Alexander louchly propped up one side of the stage whilst stroking the tunes out of his accordion. Emma Smith, like a Gothic statue buttressed by her double bass, held the other side. Eliza strutted and strolled between them whilst playing a variety of instruments and leading the songs like a roly poly version of Anne Pigalle. Maybe not quite so Gallic; her Mum shines through so much of what she does. Behind them Barney Morse-Brown, varying between sedate, classical style cellist and screaming rock hero, and Willy Molleson, holding the whole thing together with a tight (if such a loose style could be called tight) drum set, made up a fine back row.
The music is unclassifiable; jazz, ska (especially when Phil turned to his new toy; a Hammond organ), the Eurythmics, Weill, Rory McLeod, music hall and many more, all knitted together to form a selection of songs that wouldn't have been out of place in a '40s film noire.
Whilst being no Jaque Brel Eliza's lyrics tell of heartbreak and longing, of disappointment and sorrow, as well as bleak futures and hard pasts, all peppered with her own strength of character, at least, they do if you can make out the words; whilst being pretty good regarding the instrumentation the sound let down the vocals which were more than a little muffled though it did improve in the second half.
A fine evening's entertainment, I'm still humming Rory McLeod's Hug You Like a Mountain.