- Ana Mae
Venturing out to this show, the signs were indicating that it’ll likely be the last live performance to be enjoyed for a while. Liverpool taking the social distancing message more seriously than me, the city centre’s streets are markedly different to normal, the male to female ratio uncomfortably uneven. A relief then, to reach Studio2 with ANA MAE beginning her set.
Singer Lara Boundy is aptly flying solo yet unknowingly doing her bit creating a safe, welcoming space. Her black humour cheers and she adds a playful, slightly mocking tone to her melancholic reflections, giving her songs a refreshing bite, meaning the version of Echo & The Bunnymen’s Killing Moon could easily have been dispensed with and replaced with another of her own.
Main support Eli Smart is unable to play, so Italian-born Manchester-based JULIA BARDO is up next with her band. To go from guitarist in Working Men’s Club to the chic glamour of a classic 60s chanteuse with country and folk threads from decades since woven in is quite a leap. Bardo, nevertheless, is now signed to Wichita Recordings under her own steam.
If anything, above all else tonight proves the absolute gorgeousness of her songs. Is it hip to write catchy tunes these days? Something tells me Julia Bardo cares not a jot for fashions and whatnot. It’s a tricky tightrope to balance, the honest celebration of melodies and yet somehow staying apart and special.
The oft-cited comparisons with Stevie Nicks are justified when she mashes up Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams with Björk’s Big Time Sensuality. Opposite ends of a musical spectrum these songs may be, but rules are there to be broken. Significantly, though, she’s been blending these two tracks live a lot lately she still makes us feel like we’re the ones to witness it for the very first time.
On last year’s debut Desire, Bardo channels Maria McKee, an absolute treat. Please Don’t Tell Me, co-produced by The Orielles’ Henry Carlyle-Wade, is total pop joy showcasing, yet again, Bardo’s addictive choruses. Holding the attention of a quiet room is a skill in itself and Bardo handles that with steady ease, yet as she delivers I Wanna Feel Love one can’t help feel a little tense when the spoken word segment is due. But the words are delivered with a cool indifference, inspired maybe by the internal movie star she references.
It’s a bit of a shock as we’re snapped out of the dreamy, delightful Julia Bardo bubble as the set ends at 45 minutes dead, leaving all here totally, utterly bewitched and enchanted. Leaving the venue and stepping out into the street it can’t help but occur that there are far worse ways to face the start of a social life drought.