The Water Rats, five minutes’ walk from King’s Cross station, has undergone a refurbishment and now has a stylish and minimalist interior – but what the venue is to be congratulated over is its commitment to live music. The intimate music room, which is in the back room, has been similarly upgraded and offers a very welcoming space for mostly up-and-coming musicians. (Sept 24th – the pub has had a further refurbishment – please recheck website before going).
Lucy Wainwright, daughter of Suzzy Roche and Loudon Wainwright III, performed here on Tuesday, equally billed with Holly Lerski. Suzzy has an aura of hippy glamour about her, Lucy is defined by her refreshingly ‘non starry’ quality, she comes across as a well-balanced individual who hasn’t been raised in a celebrity bubble.
Opening number is Suzzy Roche’s Everybody writes a G Chord Song, and the magical harmonies are an immediate draw, Suzzy’s lower register anchoring their vocals. What is unexpected are the humorous and often lengthy anecdotes between each number. Stories revolving around: driving in Britain and having to guess the speed limit, big cars and small parking spaces, and Lucy’s tale of a date which went unexpectedly wrong. At one point Lucy asks if we have any questions for her, which is just one benefit of being at such an ‘intimate’ gig.
We also learn the backstory to many of the songs, such as Lucy’s story about the horror of having to sit for a portrait when she was small. There are impressively sensitive covers, too, such as Call Your Girlfriend, with its goose-bumps lyrics, which brings out the purity of Lucy’s voice, and The Beatles’ For No One. The final number is Simon & Garfunkel’s America, a song we all join in with.
Things run a little less smoothly for Norfolk songstress Holly Lerski – at least to start with. The first act has been allowed to run over time quite considerably, Wainwright and Roche are selling and signing CDs with their legion of fans and Holly has to find her equilibrium. It takes her a few numbers into her shortened set to get into her stride, although when she gets going we can appreciate the lush warmth of her voice.
Most of the material is from her new album, recorded at home in her shed, hence the album’s name – The Wooden House. Like Lucy before her, she precedes each song with an anecdote although there is less time for her to engage with her audience. Title song The Wooden House and the catchy Building You the Ark I found particularly appealing. She concentrates on new material and there’s little from the past although she does play My Love from Life is Beautiful. Holly and her band are on tour over the summer, and hopefully she will be able to make a considerable number of new fans and her quiet charm will be allowed to flower.
THE SMALL PRINT
WHO: Lucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche, Holly Lerski
WHEN: June 2, 2015
WHERE: The Water Rats, London