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- Barfly, Glasgow »
- Queen Adreena »
It's eerie and so innocent at the same time: The stage is bathed in green light while a 1930's silent film soundtrack is playing, and no one in the sold-out venue is making a single sound. Everyone is staring at the spot in the middle as if they could magically make the band appear. When they do come on, they take to their instruments clad in black and stoicism, while Katie Jane Garside starts singing 'My Silent Undoing' a capella, swaying ever so slightly with each word. She sounds ethereal, looks like a fairyqueen, barefoot in a see-through white dress. Then they launch into 'Kitty Collar' without warning, and the innocent elfin singer turns into a pacing, manic force, throwing herself around on stage, screaming and cooing, and whispering and shouting, and crying and charming the room into a frenzy. Song after song she pounds through every human emotion, like you're stuck on a rabid merry-go-round, but the one with the prettiest lights and bells.
This is music to break your heart to, and music to find it new and free again, somewhere you didn't expect it, in some glockenspiel beauty buried underneath towering bass and menacing drums. It's cute fingerpicked guitar notes hidden on top of overheating punk chords, melodies that charm like glitterflies and get chased around by sonic predators.
Queen Adreena are four very talented people all working together perfectly, but while the rest of the band remain looking unmoved on stage, you feel like you are witnessing a primal swansong watching the singer rip her heart out and show it to you on a silver-tongued plate. And whenever you think she must be the most fragile being on earth, she turns around with a wave of thundering vocal lashings, or dives straight into the crowd, ends up rolling on the floor. At the end of 'Soda Dreamer' she shouts "Chair! Chair! Chair!!!" before climbing on a hastily fetched stool and continuing to sing from there, dancing and flirting and swaying, ever so little too far out. You don't know if she has the unexpected balance of someone in a trance, or if she's just playing with you. Eventually she lets herself drop onto Crispin Grey and entangles him in her microphone lead. He pushes her off, tries to free his guitar, she kicks, he pulls. She threatens to stumble over the kicked-over mic stand, then grins and gracefully steps over it. She's only toying after all.
By the time they start playing 'Pretty Polly' I don't think there's a single person left in the room that isn't totally hypnotized. Whether Katie Jane's sitting on a monitor with her back to the crowd, whispering "Fuck me baby", while pulling strings on Orson Wajih's bass, throwing herself into the adoring crowd over and over, while maintaing perfect vocal control, or wrestling Crispin to the ground, it's all so violently tender, so agressive and sweet at the same time. The perfect acting out to a set that seemlessly drags you from prettiness mountain into oceanfloor sadness, through hellfire and hopeful earth into skyhigh cloudburst. Exercise for the soul, this must be. I've just never seen anything like it.
The gig comes to a halt with the rest of the band leaving and her sitting at the side of stage, legs outstretched, baby pout on her face, thumping her mic onto the floor, bang bang bang, clap for me godammnit! So the room does. She gets up and does her a capella closing song, swaying from side to side with eyes closed, "I only make love to Jesus, I only fuck God...". She opens her eyes and just leaves.
The crowd goes mental and begs for an encore. Not a long wait. They return for one song, which seems to pack the sonic punch of the whole set into one last beautiful scream, and this time you know it's final, because when the song is bleeding its last notes out not only does Katie Jane jump the guitarist, but she also starts atacking the drum kit and eventually they all go. With the bass on reverb she shouts, dances, crowdsurfs a bit more, just playing with her happily killed off mice before finally pulling the plug and vanishing completely. The lights come back on and everyone is looking like they just woke up from a trance. Like I said. I've never seen anything quite like it...