The Islington Metal Works is a somewhat strange venue, as you enter from the street past the merchandise table on the right, the performance space is a rectangular room painted entirely in black and dimly lit, so dimly in fact that it takes more than a few moments to acclimatize and realise that the bar is located next door also discreetly hidden.
We have gathered to witness the launch of Liv Austen's album "A Moment Of Your Time", there has already been a discreet playback event and initial word of mouth has been very good for an album that seems to have been a long time in coming with just the tease of a few singles to keep us satiated in the meantime.
It would have been easier to fill the supporting bill with lesser artists to make herself shine all the brighter, so full praise to Liv for packing the evening with top quality talent who each made a strong impact on the night. Opening the show was Tally Spear, it was a first sighting for us of Tally however unlikely to be our last as she made a great impact in her short five song set. Armed with just her acoustic guitar and initially appearing behind a veritable pea souper provided by the stage dry ice machine she opened with the uptempo rocky "Scatterbrain". Next came the rocky sounding "City Girl", during which you could not help but notice her habit of slightly squishing her nose on the microphone! It was yet another strong song and by the time of the third, the excellent "Wasted" for which she also donned a harmonica we were completely enthralled. It was excellently delivered as was the next song "Loud Enough" which had a suitably loud rocking chorus.
There was one brief nod back to her earlier released EP with the slower "Just Don't Know" though even this included some power chord strumming on the chorus.So a short set but definitely one that piqued our interest to see a lot more more.
Next up on the bill was Clara Bond with guitarist Ollie Harris providing superb support on electric guitar, who set things off with a slow delicate intro that would eventually turn into "Love Can't Stay". This version delivered in a slower more sultry manner. Next up came the forthcoming single "Does Your Girlfriend Know You're Single".
Having only Ollie's guitar to fall back on really let Clara explore some of material, "Tambourine" really benefited from a vocal that captured a certain vulnerability in its new slower surroundings. By Clara's own admission "Flashback" is that saddest song she has written and it has never sounded better.
There was to be a bold cover choice with Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" with nods of appreciation to Ollie for capturing that required essential guitar sound to accompany the great vocals. The set was to close with the ever excellent "Out Of Towners" followed by the song that impressed the team greatly at the recent Hackney show. Out of intense experiences can come the best creativity and Clara certainly feels strongly about the person that inspired "Crown", the best thing to come out of it would seem to be that it has inspired an excellent song.
One hopes that the future EP will make good on our prediction made at Buckle & Boots that Clara has all the attributes to make a big breakthrough.