Sadie and the Hotheads at the Hippodrome CasinoCultureMusicLive music
Lead singer and masthead of Sadie and the Hotheads is none other than Elizabeth McGovern. With award nominations including two Golden Globes, a primetime Emmy and an Oscar, and a current starring role in the massively successful ITV drama Downton Abbey, there will inevitably be a sense of intrigue in any new audience witnessing McGovern’s musical alter ego or her “Sadie” which McGovern defines as “that thing inside you which makes you unique”.
In a sentence at the very end of the biography on their website, following a lengthy account of McGovern’s on-screen success, the band’s collective musical connections are listed as an impressive repertoire, including varied acts such as John Paul Jones, Beverly Knight, Joss Stone and Ms Dynamite.
The band open with One Thing Leads to Another, McGovern singing lead vocals and clutching a guitar, which she plucks at inaudibly while the extensive band play behind her. McGovern’s voice, however, cuts through the music and fills the intimate Hippodrome Casino with her velvety tones. Her voice is sultry and relaxed, but the lyrical content of her self-penned catalogue reveals its inadequacy right from the offset, with the opening bars: “One thing leads to another, it’s the same for the sister it’s the same for the brother, you could have gone one way but you went the other.”
The simplistic and expositional lyrics continue throughout the entire set, making the performance feel like a parody – but there is no acknowledgement of this effect from the band who strum on with crippling sincerity as the patronising song content blunders through the dull and offensive.
Just when it seems the show can’t descend any further into the farcical, Steve Nelson swaps his guitar for a banjo, Simon Nelson begins a rhythmic foot stomp and backing vocalist Danica Chapman produces a penny whistle for a painful rendition of Tell Me Ma, replacing the words “Belfast City” with “New York City” to add no relevance or charm to the cover whatsoever.
With improved lyrics (and maybe a new name) Sadie and the Hotheads could far better showcase the musical talent each member clearly possesses. The band play well together and seem to genuinely care about the project – but to be accepted by the masses as a credible entity they need to break free of the unimaginative stereotypes and bourgeois ideals currently rife in McGovern’s song lyrics.
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Watch the video for Nothing New here: