ILO / Mercy - Double Meaning Single Launch - The Bedford
It was but a few short months ago that #TEAMw21 were at the same venue witnessing the same artist, That night she previewed a forthcoming single "Double Meaning", it was simply awesome, it had a feel of grandeur and swagger normally found in a Bond theme, so it seemed only fitting that we should return for a party to celebrate its release. In the intervening months the artist formerly known as Ilona has metamorphosed into ILO but other than that it was business as usual . The Bedford retains its charm and its reputation for supporting unsigned acts and with its giant glitter ball reflecting light around the venue, and the small round candlelit tables making it one of London's more comfortable venues to watch entertainment in.
First up on the night though, and recovering from tonsillitis was Mercy the non de plume of Fiona Lee, who with her multicoloured Picasso like painted guitar, played a short but highly entertaining set, the sort of set that stops you in your tracks, something just a little different from the norm and therefore much more interesting.
She began with "I Still Adore You", her voice a little deeper than you might at first imagine when looking at her, and with a charming habit of occasionally balancing on one leg as she played, with the other leg tucked back behind her flamingo like. she immediately intrigued. Her guitar playing strident and confident with a lyrical content that immediately caught the attention, and saw has emphatically pronounce the chorus.
Her second song "Sugar" came with a strong repeated guitar line, and lyrics full of small personal details, before eventually opening out into a faster played guitar style and a plaintive "Give Me Love Give Me Love" chorus.
Mercy's stage manner was always engaging, even when making the difficult introduction to "Breath In Breathe Out", which she prefaced as being "a very sad song", there was an air of confidence that was highly impressive.This was very raw, deeply personal songwriting to share, trying to make sense of difficult situation and from that creating something touching. To then go on to sing it, including some sustained notes that must've been tricky to deliver with tonsillitis. Her short but memorable set came to a close with "Perfect Place" which would be hard to sing at any time let alone when under the weather, it was a slower song, which saw the vocals steadily build into something of what must have been a throat wrenching finale, as it soared through the scales to great atmospheric effect, ending suddenly.
When we last saw ILO, her regular band was supplemented by some of Lost Hollow, tonight it was just bassist supremo KT Parker, and Tony Moore on guitar and piano who provided all of the instrumentation and backing vocals, though Tony with some wizardry was also able to provide a drum track when required.
Her set opened with "Love Me Like I'm Yours" something of a gently paced piece of Country pop, with ILO's vocals backed up by KT & Tony to make an impressive start. ILO makes a great stage presence, taking out the microphone from its stand and wandering the stage she is a natural performer
. Tony and KT then combined to make the broody backing intro for "Safety Net" from 2016's "Fragile Heart" EP, which comes with it's "Holding On" chorus which is as classy a piece of pop as you'll ever get to hear and one of the many gems in her back catalogue. With ILO grabbing the microphone with both hands really concentrating her vocals, and KT's bass giving the track something of a funky pulsing feel, topped off with the backing vocals from KT and Tony.
Another side of ILO though is her ability to rock out at ease and when Tony opens "Back To You" with some big 80's power chords she was more than ready to vocally match him. Tony is of course something of a multi instrumentalist and a quick switch to the piano allowed him to make the ballad intro for "Best Day Of My Life", a song which was the result of something good coming from something bad, and saw ILO hitting some big notes in a splendid rendition.
The reason for our gathering was at the exact midpoint of the set, admittedly a little of the wind was taken out of its sails by the news that the actual single release had been postponed until April 25th but all will be apparently explained in the forthcoming weeks. "Double Meaning" is apparently ILO's most special song ever written, and it is easy to understand why, from the classic Bond theme intro to the power chorus this is just irresistible, with ILO again grabbing the microphone, for her vocal performance of the night, filled with emotion, it is a song that you just simply do not want to end.
Delving further into the back catalogue, Tony unleashed the opening rocking riffs that come with "You Are The One", ILO matching the guitar with some suitably apt vocals. Keeping the guitar vibe going, "Rewind" had something of 80's powerpop feel to it with ILO delivering rapid fire verse lines into a singalong chorus that the audience duly sung along to on the "We'll get it right this time" line.
By now the performance was being broadcast live on the internet even to ILO's home country of Bulgaria and so they could see ILO stomp on the stage to Tony's riff at the start of "Loves Out The Window" which later even saw KT throw in her own stomp while holding her bass guitar high in the air. The audience by now were in full voice on their "Loves Out The Window" part and the song ended with ILO unable to hold back a wide smile at the response. The final bit of drama came in the closing song with ILO again walking the stage and then dropping to her knees on "Kiss Me Back To Life", at one point even singing out loud with her back to the audience. There was even time for a false ending before a final few reprises of the chorus which brought the evening to an end with a fitting climax.
"Double Meaning" will be released on April 25th and promises to be something special!!!