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LIVE REPORT: She Makes War
Marc Burrows , July 5th, 2013 10:37

Marc Burrows is in attendance as Laura Kidd headlines her travelling club night in solo guise

Photograph courtesy of Laura Ward

Bristol’s Laura Kidd, the owner-occupier of ‘gloom-pop’ solo outfit She Makes War and Viv Albertine bassist, is trying her best to be more than a singer-songwriter, because quite astutely she knows that these days having a way with a grungey chorus - and just so we’re clear, she’s really got a way with a grungey chorus - is never going to be enough. We’re in a post-Amanda Palmer world, and while such a lazy comparison will inevitably irritate Ms. Makes War, the Boston Kickstarter Queen is a useful shorthand for creative self-sufficiency and the value of community to a new artist. Kidd has learnt her lessons well: rather than settling for knocking out corking, lovelorn alt.pop, she established herself as a world builder.

She Makes War is practically a 360 degree art-project, centred on two genuinely impressive home-cooked and self-released albums and supported by a neat web of photography, film-making and live performances at a travelling club night dubbed ‘Breakfast With Apollo’, which Kidd comperes, curates and, on this occasion, closes, with fans buying tickets on a pay what you can basis “or £10, because for some people, £7 is more than they can afford, and to others £10 is nothing”. Tonight she’s brought her bunting and impeccable between-set-DJ-skills (Elastica, Suede b-sides, early Nirvana) to Hoxton Square’s Underbelly, bravely giving her event its east London debut on Glastonbury weekend.

Support comes from Mishkin Fitzgerald (think a beautifully-wrought, mournful take on Patrick Wolf and Regina Spector via mid-period Depeche Mode) and Austria’s Clara Luzia, whose wonderful take on ‘It’s A Sin’ shows a real understanding of the darkness in the Pet Shop Boys original, and it’s not even the highlight among a set of gems that walked a beautifully balanced grunge/folk/pop line.

Kidd’s headline spot as She Makes War is all charm and plummy, butter-wouldn’t-melt banter between songs that would sting a broken heart like TCP on a fresh graze; a sharp sting, but also a satisfying one. There’s very little here that would look genuinely fresh on paper - you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve had your fill of pretty girls in polka dot dresses, brandishing ukuleles and loop pedals. But Kidd is more than the sum of her parts - these aren’t gimmicks, they’re tools, and along with the crunch of her Telecaster and a small gang of contributing friends, they serve a songbook far stronger than the youthful-looking Kidd should possibly have a right to. Take ‘In This Boat’, which builds from something quite lost and lonely and to a quietly furious finale, “You are an anchor” she cries, “I am a wave.” Take forthcoming single ‘Delete’, in which Kidd strides around the room with a toy drum against a looped background of her own voice and rather than twee, it comes across as dark.

As she closes proceedings on the very lovely ‘Slow Puncture’, it’s time for the bunting to come down and it’s hard not to see Laura Kidd’s path plotting a clever defence against the slow death of the old music biz - a gradually-accumulating fanbase, enchanted into Kidd’s little world and sent on their way. Why just sing songs, when you can build worlds?

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