Melissa Auf Der Maur - Islington Academy, London
The shopping-centre nightmare that is the Islington Academy houses tonight's debut Melissa Auf Der Maur gig. She's never headlined a show before as a sole entity away from Hole or Smashing Pumpkins and the sweaty, packed atmosphere is the perfect introduction. Watching the fiery redhead pound her bass to her own material, you quickly realise that Ms. Auf Der Maur is one of the few survivors of female rock royalty. She's shunned the desperate attention-grabbing antics of former colleague Courtney Love and in contrast honed her craft with a very strong, self-financed personal album. Ironically enough, Auf Der Maur is far closer to being an iconic rock chick for 2004 than Love will ever be, and she has already brought a sizable fanbase to this gig with her.
Opening with a few instrumental bars of Lightning Is My Girl segued with Beast Of Honor, tonight’s set will obviously consist of the stronger tracks from debut album Auf Der Maur. Judging by some of the audience members at the front near the stage, many fans have already memorised every track lyric, suggesting tonight’s performance as more of a homecoming than an introduction. Melissa flings her hair in time with every pounding bass note, and her backing band play their instruments with the assuredness of stadium rockers. Real A Lie has the power-rock drive to convert every other casual admirer into an ardent fan, and when she pays tribute to the UK’s heritage of rock, in particular the Irish Thin Lizzy, you wish her set could contain more songs so that tonight’s gig wouldn’t end so quickly.
Still, at least Melissa has suitable down-to-earth grace to donate her plectrum to a chancer in the crowd who merely asks if he could have it, or deal with a heckler who impatiently sits through her quieter, poetic moments of reflection on stage. In one swoop, Melissa Auf Der Maur has become the new Queen of rock, and when she finishes with lead single Followed The Waves, she is doing nothing but admiring her new crown. This year, the title belongs to Auf Der Maur, and not Courtney Love, as everyone was expecting.
Read Raphael Pour-Hashemi's interview with Melissa Auf Der Maur here.
Photo courtesy of Gary @ g2007.com