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Ladies to the Front – Three Wise Monkeys, 01/02/2023

Part of Independent Venue Week, Three Wise Monkeys put together this lineup of five of the best musicians around, some who’ve been faces of the local scene for a while and some of them up and coming artists, performing stripped back tracks in the newly refurbished venue. The lineup was decided by picking names out of a hat, a fairly novel way of picking an order but a fair way. First out of the hat was Bridget with a stripped back version of her live set. Her vocals were, as per usual, incredibly powerful and that really held the set together. I, personally, wasn’t that keen on the distorted acoustic sound – it works well for emphasis on lead sections and can bit a bit abrasive for chords but other than that the set sounded great. Her full band set is incredibly polished now and it’s good to see another approach to the songs.

Up next was Lianne Kaye with April Rose Moodie on piano – this set was excellent. Lianne’s songwriting is incredible anyway and the sound created with just the guitar and piano worked incredibly well. Lyrically Lianne clearly has a lot to say and the stripped back setup really allows them to shine through. The future singles sounded incredible – I really look forward to hearing them recorded.

In the middle of the bill was Fiona Harmon of The Wicked Ravens and Hobo Chang. Despite the stripped down nature of the performance the set still had an incredible amount of depth, the acoustic guitar layered with violin and cajon. Fiona’s vocals were, as always, powerful and moving, the atmospheric nature of the instruments helping letting the vocals drive the songs forward. Incredible. It’s amazing how well these songs work acoustically without feeling like they’ve lost anything.

Louise Brett of Ecto Peach was next and she had possibly the most interesting start to her set, acapella with a loop pedal creating harmonies and sections of dissonance in all the right spots. The rest of the set, backed by guitar, sounds great too but I’d love to hear more in the style of the set opener, especially if used alongside the guitar playing. Lyrically very interesting and vocally spot on throughout, I think Louise’s tracks would work whether performed with just guitar or heavily produced with electronics and vocal layers.

Finishing the night is Polly Haynes who states that she wishes she wasn’t drawn last as she’s a few Guinness in at this point but, on the flip side, the later performance means Sophie Nash can join her with some harmonies. Anyone who’s seen Polly before will already know that she’s one of the best musicians around and a few (many) drinks isn’t going to stop that. She’s perfected her sound and style on guitar over the years to create some really interesting progressions throughout and her voice sounds excellent. By her own admission she doesn’t put much music out there which I think is a shame as she’s easily one of the best songwriters in the area and deserves to be heard by a wider audience.

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