Thursday 8 May 2014


Live Review

Robin2, Bilston

If you are looking for fantastic harmonies, eclectic sounds and talent in buckets then you need to get a ticket to the Moulettes playing live.

The Moulettes 
Their gig at the Robin2, Wolverhampton was seriously under-patronised so it's amazing how many people missed the chance to hear this orchestra-like sound from a handful of extremely skilled and enthusiastic musicians.
They opened with their well-known offering Sing Unto Me and straight away they set their stall out making it clear they were here to produce a rich, intricate and fascinating sound.
Taken from their albums The Bear's Revenge and one of the same name, it starts quite modestly then Ollie Austin kicks in on the drums and the full-bodied harmonies of Hannah Miller and Ruth Skipper jump in and you realise you are in for something special.
This segued into the almost fairground-like opening of Circle Song which blossomed out into a full dark and brooding tune with Miller making the cello growl and the other instruments adding strands to the tapestry which gave it the folk-rock sound of the early days of Fairport.
This itself segued into Unlock The Doors which really let Miller and Skipper's voices off the leash with it's breathtaking beat and machine gun lyrics. And if you ever thought the bassoon could never look like a cool instrument then you have not seen it wielded like a musical hookah in the expert hands of Skipper who was clearly enjoying every minute of being on stage.
Hannah Miller
They went all dark, mysterious and decadent with Devil of Mine and the sound they created makes you realise they are not just playing their instruments but cleverly using them as additional voices to add colour and atmosphere to their songs.
So evocative is their sound soon you soon forget you are in a music venue in the Black Country and could be in a dark cellar in Monmartre listening to all kinds of seditious and radical musings from people who live in the half light.
There is something edgy about everything they play and you realise nothing of the songs and music was designed to be conventional or pigeon-holed.
The band then pulled out Keep It As A Memory from their forthcoming album Constellations which is due to be launched on June2.
The album version has more of a reggae feel to it where the stage version they did on the night had a much more brooding and sinister sound.
Following this was the haunting Land of the Midnight Sun, also from the album, and was a perfect example of how they weave sounds and voices in and out of their songs to make up a rich collage which keeps you mesmerised with its ethereal characteristics.
Without doubt the highlight of the night was Songbird, opening with just Skipper's voice it was almost like a torch song, but then of course, as so many of their songs do, the rest of the voices begin to add their own strands of musical colour with a refrain which rises and recedes throughout the gorgeous execution.
The gentle wailing of the fiddle in the middle added so much to its atmosphere and character but without doubt what makes the song so special are the delicious harmonies they produce.
Towards the end they pulled out the rapid fire title track from their forthcoming album with the fast travelling beat of the drums being more than matched by the machine gun lyrics of Skipper et al.
The band at the Robin2 in Bilston
They went out to a much harder and rockier sound of Lady Vengeance, also from Constellations which ended the set just as they had started, it filling the venue with a cacophony of intricate and perfectly harmonised music.
The Moulettes are without doubt one of the most original sounding bands around and while they may not get the recognition of other "folk orchestras" such as Bellowhead they can hold their own and have talent to spare when it comes to producing a definite and irresistible sound.
Also worthy of mention was support act Kate Young from Edinburgh who becomes an auxiliary Moulette on many occasions, but as a solo artist she has a fascinating and original act singing and playing, among other things, songs from the Baltic regions and Eastern Europe.
Her precise and rich fiddle playing is second only to her voice which many an opera singer would die for. It's amazing the powerful and clear sound which comes out of such a slender frame, if you get a chance to see her either solo or with the Moulettes you will not be disappointed.

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