Ramona / Lissie - Heaven, London
US songstress Lissie performed her biggest London headline show to date at the Capital's Heaven club. As an avid fan of the singer I’d been looking forward to her performance but I was more than a little curious to see how support Ramona would fare live.
I’d come across the Brighton four piece earlier online, really enjoying the tracks I’d found, especially “How Long”, a song that owes more than a little to their almost namesakes The Ramones, with its hints of “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” clearly evident. However the song differs drastically from the New York band’s output due to the vocals delivered by singer Karen Anne as her voice is nothing like Joey's and more reminiscent of CBGB's buddies Blondie’s Debbie Harry.
As this was my first time watching the band their set was pretty much new to me but I found their take on radio friendly New Wave / Indie Rock extremely enjoyable, with the aforementioned track, the one about New York and "Steve McQueen" ("inspired by Steve McQueen's cock"!) all ticking the right boxes. I wasn't as keen on their cover of Blueboy's 90s dance hit "Remember Me" but that's probably because I'd rather have heard another original in their disappointingly short set.
As far as picture taking goes Karen was fairly well lit but sadly the boys in the band were shrouded in dark red lights throughout the evening which aren't great for photography, so sadly no pictures of the lads this time round! Ramona seem to have what it takes to do well in the months that follow. That being said, these things are far from certain and I’ve already seen a hotly tipped female singer travelling a slightly similar path stumble through the year when she should have been a success by now. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for Ramona in 2011 anyway and I’ll try and see them again some time down the line.
By the end of the year I imagine Illinois singer Lissie’s debut album Catching the tiger will have ended up as one of my “Top Three” albums of 2010 at the very least as it’s a strong collection throughout, with four or five outstanding tracks. Over the Summer I was lucky enough to view a quartet of Lissie performances as she was a regular on the UK Festival circuit but I hadn’t actually seen a headlining set so was eager to catch a slightly lengthier show than I was used to.
Lissie’s been playing in the UK on a fairly frequent basis over the last year or so, in fact I’m sure she’s an honorary Brit these days. The London crowd seemed to love her anyway as the sold out venue’s patrons roared their approval when she took to the stage with her three band members. Things got off to a fairly leisurely start with the singer having a brief chat to the audience before unveiling low key opener - her take on Hank Williams "Wedding Bells". She was on great form as always but the show really moved up as gear during the fourth or fifth song when single "When I'm Alone" appeared as it was a real cue for a chorus singalong. Lissie was really appreciative of the love for her in the house and had already spent time on her way to the dressing room a few minutes before the set started signing autographs and posing for pictures with a few fans down the front. The singer happily chatted to the crowd throughout the night between songs, talking about the tour, her time in the UK and even giving us a "Trick of the trade" letting us know she used supeglue to strengthen her finger nails for guitar playing, leading to a brief pause in the proceedings while she waited for it to dry, producing an exquisite version of "Everywhere I Go" immediately after.
It was great to take in an extended performance from Miss Maurus as I got to hear a few different songs to her regular festival set, especially Why you Runnin''s "Here Before" but it was the old favourites that stood out in my mind, with 'Cuckoo" and a stunning "In Sleep" high spots, especially as guitarist Eric Sullivan's solo brought the house down, leading to massive cheers from the crowd. A stomping "Little Lovin'" ended the set but it was obvious the band would be back.
Lissie began her encore with "Oh Mississippi" but it was the second song that really delivered, blowing the crowd away! Lissie's known for her covers, with her takes on "Bad Romance" and "Nothing Else Matters" already fan favourites and she had been taking requests on the previous dates of this tour. However, as this was the last night the band had decided to perform a song they'd recently played for Radio 2 - Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". Now I started buying music on a regular basis around the time of punk and have never had much love for the "old dinosaurs" of the time like Zeppelin, Floyd and ELP but even I had to take my hat off to Lissie and her boys as it was a storming rendition that actually gave me goosebumps at one point. It seemed to be what everyone was talking about as they left the building anyway, the highlight of an extremely enjoyable evening!