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AAA Music | 5 August 2020

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The Cornshed Sisters @ The Windmill

| On 14, Feb 2012

London, 13th February

With Lucas Renney and George Frakes

The Cornshed Sisters launch their new single, Dance at My Wedding, with one hell of a gig. I had decided to go to this gig after hearing the single, which I loved and was therefore expecting rather a lot. I was not disappointed. One of the things that is so interesting about the Cornshed Sisters is their sense of variety, each of the band members has their own unique voice which can certainly stand its ground alone, but when mixed together it’s really quite breathtaking. Their use of vocal harmonies is wondrous and they use vocals to the full potential as an instrument in its own right.

They did two a capella songs that showed this off very well. The first one, Tommy, was the third song of the evening. Inspired by Jennie’s sister playing too much Fairport Convention and reading the Water Babies, the song was a terribly interesting one. What was most interesting was the wonderful use of vocal harmonies in place of instruments, which meant, while the song was lacking instruments, it certainly wasn’t lacking music. And one didn’t feel like it would have been better with instruments. The Cornshed Sisters managed to make a song sound beautiful without a single pick of a string or press of a key and I think that really is something quite unusual.
The diversity of song topics is also interesting. The second a capella number I didn’t happen to catch the name of, but boy was it a great one. The song was inspired by the recent fashion for real fur and the cruelty surrounding it. The concept was mistaking someone wearing fur for an actual animal and the person experiencing the consequences of this (AKA cruelty). The song explored this idea in a pretty humorous manner, but with a dark side. Just remember not to go around in rabbit fur coats or you might end up in one of the Cornshed Sisters’ pies. Overall a much more interesting concept for a song than a lot of musicians come up with. It’s not cool when an entire musician’s discography is made up of just love songs and love songs alone. I can think of a few artists like this, making the Cornshed Sisters a pleasant breath of fresh air.

The folk ballad Mad Tom from Bedlam was also a great addition to the set. Bringing along some traditional folk roots to the mix, alongside poppier numbers, such as Dance at My Wedding. The variety of the set was excellent.

The set list was mainly made up of original material, although there were a few cover songs and these didn’t feel out of place at all. The band managed to add a unique touch to every song. Their originality and down to earth nature makes the act very much a likable one. The amiable and comfortable nature of the gig made for a lovely experience.

Having spoken to a few people beforehand, the Windmill had been described to me as pretty dingy and a bit shady; however this was not the case. Sure, it’s small but it’s homely and decorated in a makeshift manner with stickers, posters, paint and the like. Personally, I’d call candles in Jack Daniel’s bottles the highest of shabby chic. And it’s nice to be able to sit there at a table with your candle and alcoholic beverage or otherwise and still have a great view of the stage for the entire evening. A wonderful place to spend the evening, comfortable and friendly, and with three brilliant acts for a mere five pounds, one can hardly complain. And from looking at the array of posters on the walls it seems they have some more good acts to come. As a venue it’s well worth checking out, especially if you’re a bit short of cash and still want to have a great, music filled evening.

George Frakes, who appeared for a small set at the start of the evening, was also very good. Some beautiful intricate guitar playing, which was even more wondrous set off by harmonica accompaniment on a few songs. A good mix of emotional and upbeat and a very good stage presence. Certainly worth checking out.

Lucas Renney appeared for a bit longer with some interesting acoustic numbers. Especially good when accompanied by Cornshed Sisters pianist, Liz. However it was often difficult to hear, the microphones seemed a bit quiet during the performance, which was a total shame as what one could hear was good.

A brilliant evening overall, the Cornshed Sisters gave a spellbinding performance with some incredible vocal harmonies and interesting original songs. Their debut album, which is out in spring, is certainly one to watch out for.


Rose Benge