Love + Madness Female Musicians Showcase

Featured Article

Love + Madness Female Musicians Showcase


I am so pleased that if you read the magazine & check out the tracks on "Hot Music Live", one of the stories it tells about the exceptionally healthy state of original music in Coventry & Warwickshire is the very leading & influential role in which female creative artists have played.

In terms of numbers, the percentage of featured female musicians has improved enormously (I am sure plenty of you would not see that process as anywhere near complete) and in respect of my regularly expressed feelings that the local scene is at an all time high in terms of originality, diversity & quality, it's striking how many of the apparent catalysts are female or are bands with female members (of course there are several obvious examples of artists who prefer to travel well worn roads as well, but that's to be expected).

I was therefore delighted to attend much of the special female artist showcase organised by the Love + Madness project which sought to highlight this trend (I'd of course also steer you towards the groundbreaking work of the Boudica Festival team, most of the gigs at The Tin and LTB Showrooms and of course Joe Colombi's Sink or Swim Promotions has offered so many opportunities to female artists).

The project was founded by Pandora Craig & Sam McNulty and this Love + Madness event was evidently very much Pandora's baby & it was impossible to miss her overflowing enthusiasm yesterday (even in the pitch dark of when I arrived it was obvious when I encountered her).

Thankfully, I caught four of the acts: all were wonderful & we've featured all four on ‘Hot Music Live' volumes, I'm delighted to say.

Equally thankfully, in the limited time available (Pandora squeezed six acts into three hours and big credit to the HMV Empire sound & stage crew for immaculate change overs and sound) there was space for a short (three song) set from Pandora herself (with a supergroup backing band of Paul Quinn on drums, Baz Eardley on lead guitar and Neil Ingram on bass) which gave her a platform for her joy to express itself.

The other three bands I caught were very much at the crème de la crème end of the "what's new & freshest about in local music?" spectrum: Bar Pandora, Project Overload & Shanghai Hostage (weren't we spoiled with all that talent in one afternoon?). (The other acts on later after I'd left were Chrissie Dux & Vamoosery).

Not only would I always take any opportunity to see these bands (as did the large number of others at the event), but each one brought some new aspect for me to comment on: as you'd expect with this level of talent.

I'd previously only caught Bar Pandora with Charlie Tophill being supported by Matt Rheeston (also of Batsch and many others) but of late, the band has become a trio for live work with Indira of Lucifer Sky playing various additional instruments including bass (hopefully we'll be featuring Lucifer Sky in the future too). The short sets necessarily meant "greatest hits" being played but that really helped condense each band's appeal down into some very powerful moments. In this case, the well-known songs came across in new guises with Charlie freed from such a burden of providing so much of the instrumentation: her guitar playing was more punchy than ethereal and the songs gained muscle & power in addition to their previous grace.

Project Overload have erupted like a rocket this year & there seem few limits on where they are going. Like Bar Pandora, they will be making their Godiva Festival debut this week: and on Main Stage too. The accolades keep rolling in & with merit. Fairly obviously, not everyone there yesterday had seen them live yet & judging by comments I solicited from what was a really knowledgeable audience, my enthusiasm is very much shared.

The stage size worked in their favour (I enjoyed their set at the HMV shop which I reported to you but really this space better served their act) and the confidence just continues to grow (again, I validated this with others, including people who've followed their career from its very earliest days). They are as powerful now as they are melodic, thoughtful & catchy. I mentioned last time out how Emily's vocals seemed to have a great deal of potential for impact & dynamic range & she really is unlocking this now. Of course Project Overload are 80% male but in her they increasingly possess a front person of character and onstage focus which I am sure will tend to be the centre of attention for a lot of reviews to come: though I hope she gets the credits for her lyrics too as they are high class.

Shanghai Hostage are one of Coventry's most popular live acts (I look forwards to their making Godiva one year) and it was a sad little bit of local music history that yesterday was Ian Todd's last gig as a member (he was telling me of the exciting plans he has for future music): so I am glad that I was there for that.

Again, the space helped unlock many of the qualities of the band (looking back, it's interesting how many of my more recent Shanghai Hostage gigs have been in more restricted spaces). The wit, good humour, zaniness and thought provoking ideas for songs help define them, but so does their ability to really funk the place into a bit of a frenzy & the option to get loud, make their stage moves etc just gives you Hostage Plus.

As I say, you can catch several of these great bands later this week at Godiva if you couldn't make it yesterday (Pandora is on the Cov Stage on Friday evening, Project Overload on the Main Stage at 1325 on Saturday afternoon and Bar Pandora is on the Cov Stage at 1540 on Sunday afternoon).

There are also plenty of other local female acts and acts featuring female members whom we've covered & who are also breaking boundaries: including Abz Winter on the Serendipity Stage on Friday at 2100, The Caroline Bomb on the Resonate Stage at 2115 on Friday, Ace Ambrose on the Cov Stage at 1400 on Saturday, with Duck Thieves following her and on Sunday, Izzie Derry (fresh from playing Glastonbury) at 1300 on the Cov Stage, followed by Shanade. I'd also draw your attention to Loophole (whose Lucas is also a member of Project Overload) who won the Under 18 category of "Godiva Calling" and so will be playing on the Main Stage on Sunday at 1220: they are so new that I've not had a chance to write about them yet. And of course Boudica will be presenting The Go! Team on the Main Stage at 1625 on Saturday.

The future is looking bright for Coventry & Warwickshire music & part (a big part) is that the originality of local female artists is being freed from the various mechanisms which denied it much of a voice. Anyone playing a part in promoting what's happening & those doing this needs our support & Pandora made it very clear that she at least saw yesterday as a start & not as a one off.

  Social media   


Related articles

You will have noticed my considerable respect for & excitement concerning the Live On Stage project if you've been reading my article over the ...

 [1 image]

Having previewed the Glastonbury debuts of Izzie Derry & Dolly Mavies for you, I thought readers might like a follow up piece on their experiences.

 [1 image]

Only a week ago, I suggested that "expect the unexpected" was a thread running through the artistry of those of whom I wrote.

 [1 image]

As you'll have read in my in my article about Matthew Mansfield (aka Matt Hernández) earlier this week, my intention had been to pop down to the ...

 [1 image]

This article is pretty much a mirror to my anticipatory one on the 2024 Godiva Festival which I wrote a month ago: having looked forwards to ...

 [1 image]

Frequently actual songs grab me passionately and draw me into their embrace, but very occasionally I engage even earlier when the very title is so ...

 [1 image]

Is this now a thing? The other day, I was flexing myself to review "Data Machinery" by Duke Keats and then he dropped a guerilla release of ...

 [1 image]

Although her magnificent album ‘Til We Reach The Sun' was in part a striking manifestation of what I dubbed "Angry Izzie" with her tearing ...

 [1 image]