Holly Macve, a young country inspired singer-songwriter from Yorkshire is sure to be a star some day. I was very pleased to have a ticket to see her play last night, at the smaller venue at the Cluny in Ouseburn as there's already been a pretty noticeable hype building around her in the press and on the radio. I arrived at the venue for a pre gig pint and noticed a small blond in a very sizable hat sat in the corner with a group of men dressed in black. It didn't register at this point.
The gig was somewhat clinical. Instruments lined up on stage, neatly arranged. Chairs in rows in what is generally a tiny standing venue. Holly arrived on stage, played a song, was joined by a guitarist for another and then the rest of the band. The black clad men. Although her voice is clearly astonishing, a warm, rich yodel, for me things worked best when she was backed with the full sound and backing vocals of the other three musicians. Her 'thing' is all highly reminiscent of other 'things' of course, classic Country & Western, David Lynch, Mazzy Star and every lovelorn weepie from the Mid West states that you've ever heard.
If it's all very beautifully done it's also a rather closed off exercise. Macve is a very contained performer, her presence is palpable, but she's also a very shy one and not all of the songs are quite where she wants them to be just yet. When she and her band left the first time I decided not to stay for the encore. She was just outside the stage doors waiting for the appropriate pause to elapse before returning to the stage on her own as I went past her, with her guitarist lurking, somewhat protectively behind her. I mumbled a 'that was great' under my breath, rather embarrassed to be caught leaving early. It was all slightly too much 'package' for me, though I tip my own hat to her and her undoubted potential and talent. She certainly won't be playing in venues quite this small and cosy for very long.