Saturday, May 6
The British-born, Berlin-based Gemma Ray was in town for a few shows on the back of an Australian tour. Backed by drummer and co-songwriter Andrew Zammit and keyboardist/backing vocalist Gris-de-Lin, Ray’s trio looked – and sounded – like a Tarantino dream; like something you’d see and hear in a David Lynch film, were he to be making any more…
If there was a star component of the evening it was possibly Ray’s guitar tone – the rumble of Duane Eddy crossed with the snarl of early PJ Harvey, just perfect. That said, Zammit’s brushed drums blended in behind the guitar and keyboard weave so sublimely – it was about the trio sound as a whole.
And if I was going to offer any criticism to the sound it was the lack of attack; not quite raw enough, too polished, too clean – in that way the Brits often have when tackling the spirit of Americana; reinventing it, reshaping it and forgetting the crucial component: grit.
That’s a small whinge though, for this was a clinic of beautiful sounds, windswept, interesting. From the ghostly shuffle of There Must Be More Than This to the guitar attack of Ifs & Buts, most recent album, The Exodus Suite, was the blueprint for the evening – and the live recreation of these songs was subtly stunning; so close to perfect.
The big shame then was that only a couple of dozen people turned out to hear this.
The opening set from Gris-de-Lin, also playing a nice line in early PJ Harvey-esque guitar (and in the sound of her vocal howl too) was reason enough to recommend this gig. But Gemma Ray’s classiness at the microphone deserved a bigger audience. A great shame, that. But for those there, or those aware of the albums, it was a pretty terrific set. She’s certainly deserving of more – there should have been more than this at her show.