It’s been ages since I went to The Shacklewell Arms for a gig, and it was a reminder not to overlook this venue: welcoming vibe, good space for bands and amazing Lebanese Street Food cooked to order by Jellyfish Organic (soon to move to Hackney Wick).
Both the bands playing tonight, support Looking Glass Alice followed by Death and Vanilla, despite their differences, embrace vintage equipment and sound.
The evening started very promisingly with Looking Glass Alice, a psych-pop duo with a plentiful roster of songs and charmingly engaging members who don’t take long to settle into their stride. The front woman and guitarist are similarly in killer 60s vintage outfits and their stage presence is inspiring.
Titles of songs evade me but two that stood out were, I think, Black Cat Blues, and Mind the Gap (plus a couple with a definite Doors vibe) in a set that’s loaded with dancey, infectious tracks. And there are those stylishly insouciant vocals floating over the the fuzz and pulse of the instrumentation. Looking Glass Alice are definitely a band to watch out for.
Death and Vanilla are back touring in the UK – I discovered them the last time they hit these shores when they joined the Fire Records Xmas party in Hackney Wick in 2019. They excel at thoughtful and supple dream pop but can slip easily into tense and atmospherically doomy territory.
Most of the tracks from new album Flicker made an appearance, mixed with a smattering of earlier material. 60s infused Out For Magic came over well, as well as the statuesque and bleak Find Another Illusion although at times Marleen Nilsson’s vocals were a little low in the mix. Death And Vanilla appeared thrilled and even taken aback by the crowd’s enthusiasm and we were duly treated to a mesmerising version of Necessary Distortions as the encore. Marleen informed us it was going to be a long version. They could have stretched it out a further 30 mins and I would have been happy.
We leave to an absolute crush at the merch stall. Death and Vanilla say they’re hoping to come back to the UK soon. Fingers crossed.