Candice Gordon at the Rough Trade East
As 7pm ticks in, Brick Lane’s Rough Trade slowly fills with about 50-odd people, sharply dressed, big black 1980s NHS-standard glasses and men sporting brilliantly bad sideburns. As Candice Gordon comes on, she looks immediately at home in Rough Trade’s industrial, dilapidated surroundings. She hones the image of Kate Bush – messy fringe and black-as-the-night eyeliner – and when she picks up her guitar, the intimate crowd hushes in anticipation for what Gordon has to offer.
The Irish singer-songwriter boasts “folk/rock/pop,” but her set transcends that. Dotted with ear-piercing screams, head-banging drums and acid-tongue lyrics, Gordon mirrors the 90s Riot Grrl movement.
The charismatic Before the Sunset Ends is a jazzy number, soulful in its own right but makes the environment of Rough Trade seem lacking, and the horn section, which really makes the song, can barely be seen. Here to promote her newest release, she plays from the album I Haven’t Eaten in Days and Gordon truly shows her talent. She has a deeper voice than Kate Bush and she uses it so well in this song that you can hear and feel her forlorn emotion.
Gordon’s set exceeds expectations by working through songs of different feelings, and for the most part it works well. After a couple of slower songs, she breaks out in her anthem Smoking like the Barrel of a Gun where she screams so loudly and oozes with such vitality that the crowd can’t help but nod and move. She then says: “This is our last song – it’s called Cannibal Love”. The band explodes into an anarchic fury, and Gordon screams: “I just want to eat you. Yum. Yum.” It’s definitely a Marmite choice, with some of the crowd loving the novelty of the short song, whilst others stand around not sure whether to laugh or be scared.
It’s apparent that Candice Gordon’s music comes from doing what she wants. Her songs are often punctuated by sound effects (think drum beats, growls, and barks) that may not be to everyone’s liking, but certainly gives a flare to the organised chaos of her set. Her attitude, however, seems nonchalant. After I Haven’t Eaten in Days she says abruptly, “You can buy that,” and points to the tills: “there.” But there’s too much of an air of ‘I don’t want to be there’ so that at some points you think, does she want to be here? It does nothing, except perhaps to add to the DIY Riot Grrl image about her.
Overall, Candice Gordon performed a beautiful set that demonstrated the spectrum of talent the lady has. Her voice is booming and soulful, and she has a no-nonsense, in-your-face manner that seems made for higher things.
Photos: Martin Evans
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Watch a live version of Smoking like the Barrel of a Gun here:
Listen to I Haven’t Eaten in Days here: