REVIEW: The Musgraves @ Actress & Bishop, Dec 14th

Words & pics by Charlotte Rose

The Musgraves are a band that I have heard of, but never actually heard.

But recent airtime on Radio 2, and the ardent backing of the TV presenter Graham Norton, has given the band a massive boost of late.

The Actress & Bishop is an intimate venue, and as people started to trickle in I found myself wondering why there weren’t more fans here to support this Birmingham band back on home turf.

Following some technical issues involving lots of lead swapping, The Musgraves opened with ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town’ – leading straight into a short Scottish stylefolk jig.

Being a violinist myself, I was particularly drawn to Lesley Turner’s rich tones and had high hopes that the violin would feature heavily throughout their set. The soundman kind of put the mockers on that; unfortunately the levels took a while to settle, much to the frustration of the band.

The set continued with ‘The way you make me want you’, from their debut album, and ‘You that way, I this way’;1950s style drumbeats together with an uplifting roots-pop vibe.

Things slowed down mid-set for ‘Discover me’ (used in a recent BT advert), with the lead singer’s distinct tone reminding me a little of David Gray. The Musgraves also played other original tracks, such as ‘So Sophia, Back to Me’ which included a fantastic keyboard solo.

But, being December, they rounded things off with two Christmas covers, ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and a superb rendition of ‘Fairytale of New York’.

And as people danced out the set, it was clear The Musgraves’ infectious, catchy music had made the home crowd smile; albeit the same 40 people who were there at the start.

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