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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

LIVE REVIEW: CHARM OF FINCHES - MIA KELLY - THE LEXINGTON

Charm Of Finches rise through the ranks of ever expanding venues in London has seen them progress to The Lexington though still under the Green Note banner. The crowd swelled each time by a mixture of word of mouth and those who may have come across their recorded material such as their latest excellent album "Marlinchen In The Snow".


Opening the evening would be the force of nature that was Mia Kelly. As she took to the stage there was no hint of the adventures this free spirit from Quebec was about to take us on. Blessed with a mixture of good fortune and a certain joie de vivre, she had a wealth of experiences to tell us about from random cliff diving to river surfing via escapades in the Congo and Nicaragua!


CHARM OF FINCHES - MIA KELLY - THE LEXINGTON

With a stomp pedal from her right foot, providing a thumping beat, it was straight into her opening tune "Garden Through The War", her guitar playing strident and her vocal strong and powerful - May made an immediate impression, with her wide eyed expression and bright smile. She admitted to being a writer of story songs and "Bonefish Boys" came with a strong narrative with a line supplied from Nicaragua, on this tale of life in the navy.


Her explanation of the wonders of river surfing endeared her to us even more before she had played a note - "Kichissippi" her love song to the river, a heartfelt ballad filled with observations, captured her feelings about it perfectly. With melodic "oohing" , when she pondered on it drying up and asked "What would I do?" you felt her pain.


To add to her overall sound she added bells to her left foot and sung in French for her next number "Depaysee". With a chorus of "It's in my head" or "C'est Dans Ma Tete" as May would sing on the night.


The song was carried by the passion in her delivery and the news that it had pleased 50,000 Congolese folk who had all joined in - no such luck with the Lexington crowd!


There was a name check on the night for an old friend of #TEAMw21 - Blair Dunlop for his abilities as being a song doctor on "Meaning Well", a superior break up song - the chorus would see May tilt her head back as she powered the lines "It hurts like hell - trying to do what's right and do it well". The Lexington crowd would do Mia proud on closing song "Vagabond" with a "Hey hey hey" backing on the fast paced stomp - with Mia firing out the lyrics. There was a warm bon homie generated by Mia that earned her a well deserved round of applause.


Looks like her next adventure post Charm Of Finches tour is a date at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 30th June at 12:00 to celebrate Canada Day! Another adventure for this most remarkable of performers.


CHARM OF FINCHES - MIA KELLY - THE LEXINGTON

Charm Of Finches would take to the stage as usual dressed for the part, as if they had stepped from the screen of classic Hollywood movie, with Ivy in a Pinkish red number and Mabel opting for a shade of blue. A change from previous tours would see Ivy play her keyboard on most songs, the was to be no fiddle playing but feat not - there was still plenty of interpretative hand gesturing that we have come to know and love. Their joy at being able to play the new songs was palpable and formed a majority of the set with the opening salvo of four songs all coming from "Marlinchen In The Snow"


It was immediately apparent that Charm Of Finches would make a solid job of representing their well produced album without the need for any additional musicians and still make them sound compelling. "Temporary Home" commenced on piano, Ivy still immediately finding time to conduct as well as play It was the seemingly effortless interweaving vocals that were undoubtedly the star of the show. "Clean Cut" saw Mabel playing the main guitar riff while Ivy produced a heavy bass sound from her keyboard, The vocal power of the catchy chorus remained making it a perfect stripped back facsimile of the first single from the album.

CHARM OF FINCHES - MIA KELLY - THE LEXINGTON

The serious piano intro into "Atlantis" would lead to beautifully hypnotic sibling harmonies and verses with a delicate melody. The run of new songs would end with "Leave It All Behind", about missing people back home when you are touring. Mabel would play the opening verse solo on guitar, as the sisters would create a vocal soundscape.


The first non new song was "Canyon" from "Wonderful Oblivion", the song of dreams, was suitably dreamy with the twin harmonies, It was back to the new record for one of the singles "Middle Of Your Mess", stripped back to just to just piano, guitar and harmonies, it still sounded compelling - with its middle section sounding almost Beatle ish. The atmospheric sounds would continue into "Human" where once again it was the section with vocals criss crossing that was a wonder to behold.


Surely only Charm Of Finches have an upbeat song about dying alone - "On My Own" lived up to its billing, blessed with a melody that just seemed to tumble out


CHARM OF FINCHES - MIA KELLY - THE LEXINGTON

The title track of the new album came with an abridged version of the Grimm's Fairy Tale. It was the one song where the sisters would occasionally glance at each other as they played. Ivy's contributions on piano were subtle yet added much to the overall sound.


The older tunes would lose out the set was "Paint Me A Picture" - would open with just Mabel on vocals and guitar - Ivy would initially watch on with hands behind her back, "Pockets Of Stones" was another example of how an acoustic guitar, and piano supported by divine entwining vocals can be so effective.


The main set would close "Gravity", another of those songs where the melody rises and falls - sketched by Mabel's guitar, coloured in by Ivy's keyboard contribution and framed and finished with the sweet harmonies. Naturally their encore would be an uplifting song about death "Wonderful Oblivion", it would encapsulate the night and reinforce why Charm Of Finches are such an enthralling watch , a simple guitar line would become an absorbing song overtaken by the sound of the vocals, at times Mabel would even stop playing letting their voices alone carry the tune.


A marvellous night with Charm Of Finches rightly proud of their new opus - it deserves your support however nothing beats seeing Ivy and Mabel bring them to life before your very eyes.


Photography courtesy of Brian Lewis & John Gillespie

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