The Islington, June 2nd
An evening of entertainment, all to celebrate the launch of a special EP. Sunday evenings, especially those spent in the sun, can result in something of a lethargic mood. Could Eiko, Drew Worthley and Kirsty Merryn all excite The Islington on this evening organised as part of the Massive Arms collective? In a corner of the north London pub, decked out in sumptuous red, a la boudoir, we gathered to find out.
Caressing her tiny guitar, seemingly designed for such an elfin figure, Eiko Itoh played her soothing sounds in a crisp and clear manner, delivery charming and disarming. Muted musings and wistful and gentle swirls, she manages to captivate and charm. Slow yet never plodding, the what are quite frankly long songs engaged and enchanted, Morsel of Love being a particular highlight, its layers mingling and melting into one another, and Red Shoes, an ode to footwear of the colour raising a smile.
Despite his set being formed of being predominantly sad songs, as Drew Worthley apologised for, the performance had one and all smiling. His art may have evolved as a form of self therapy and catharsis, but, like hopefully the demons that needed to be exorcised, this has faded to the back ground of the beautiful and inspired poetry performed. Like when making plans for June in January, even the most morbid subject matter is a warm and welcoming light. I hate using the word singer songwriter, as it is so non descript. And Drew doesn’t have a beard, so the conjured image as a result of this noun would be inaccurate. What you can be assured of with Drew Worthley is that he is something of a gem amid a sea of mediocrity. Perpetually engrossing his shows manage to mute the mind and focus it on the songcraft, a rare talent. His debut album The Ember was showcased in its glory, as well as a few expert covers.
Usually less a fan of keys, preferring strings, I admit that a small part of me sinks when I see a keyboard. Yes, I am unfairly judgmental. Kirsty Merryn did some great work in challenging this, although having already fallen in love with her EP I had the feeling she may do so. With sounds that gently probe inner most feelings, her performance triggered the sort of delightful suspire that only the truly relaxed can do. Eidetic lyrics and robust tunes, all communicated by dextrous fingers and eyes that smile. Clockwork was intricate and immediately executed, and the beautiful Love In A City Room a lovely ode to the mundane reality of true love. For all their strong sentiment and upheld sentiment, you get the feeling that behind these songs lie unseen giggles – even on the less positive but wholly accurate Some Kind Of Dickery.
This is something that united all three of tonight’s performers. Music as a way to navigate life’s delights and frights, uniquely channeled into sonic atmospheres that suggest a strength and confidence in the notes they perform. A Sunday evening well spent, all gathered in massive arms and a warm glow. Kirsty’s EP is available here.
Photography by Adam Bakti and Pete Ellis.