20 May 2016
Tonight, Matthew, Café OTO will be a smoky jazz club, only without the smoke due to it being 2016. It’s Ellroy for vapers, a healthier Lynch movie. Because tonight Little Annie is here delivering the latest instalment of her nearly forty-year career of eclectic awesomeness, on the back of her wonderful new album Trace. Accompanied by double-bass, understated drums, piano and sax, she takes the stage shrouded in a bright neon yellow scarf, and it’s this combination of the shrouding and the vivid colours that’s to typify the evening’s entertainment.Like the album, she begins without fanfare, straight into the a capella intro of “Cold World” while the assembled drinkers and talkers start to realise something’s happening, and soon the whole place is sitting in rapt silence. As the band kick in with “Dear John”, the spell is cast and the audience are entranced. Little Annie croons, whispers and murmurs her way through an enchanting set of Badalamenti-esque lounge jazz, and the effect is magical.It’s as much due to her playful stage presence as it is to the songs or the quality of the band (both of which are very good indeed) — immensely likeable, with a kind of kick-ass vulnerability that takes no shit while still being under no illusions about the safety of the world. Occasionally melancholy, more often hilarious, and clearly (and this is the important bit) having a fuckload of fun, an enthusiasm it’s hard not to find infectious.
The tone changes when Little Annie tackles the more challenging songs, like Trace‘s “The Bitching Song”, in which she reclaims the titular word and uses it to take down, well, pretty much everyone in the world, from politicians to tailors. But it’s the switch back from the electronic interludes that entrances, the band picking up where they left off as if they’d never stopped, like the scene in a movie where there’s just been a gunfight and the band kick off again as the bodies are still being dragged out.
And then too soon it’s all over. I ask a friend what he thought, and he pretty much did my job for me in one line, so I’m stealing it: “She’d be the perfect person to do acid with, because it’d get really out there but you’d know she had your back”. Yeah, pretty much.
-Words: Justin Farrington-
-Pictures: Dave Pettit-