Fifth Floor's album launch had seemed to jinxed from the very start, with opposition coming in the shape of Brothers Osborne and football in the shape of England v Brazil. When you then also factor in the sad and somewhat shady demise of the Sound Lounge meaning a last minute change in venue, and a support act losing their voice, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was the launch that was not meant to be. Fortunately all was eventually to turn out well.
The Grosvenor Arms proved to be an interesting replacement venue, little sheets of paper cellotaped to the wall gave hints as to where the actual venue was, and only on seeing Moa on climbing the stairs confirmed i'd finally arrived. The pubs function room was in an L shape, meaning that only the performer could see both sets of the audience, with chandeliers hanging down and an attendees sat on temporary seating it had a sort of unusual charm about it - essentially we were just glad it was happening.
Unfortunately work commitments meant it was only possible to catch the tail end of Maisy Johnsons set so we'll have to wait for some shows around the release of her new EP before reviewing.
Emily Faye sadly laid low by illness was replaced by the very person that was standing next to her just over a week ago at the Corn Exchange, Elliott Joseph. As per that night he opted for his trademark piece of headgear, and as he stood there performing an intricate guitar intro to the first song it was intriguing to guess what he was going to sound like as he'd not given a lot of clues on his previous outing. Well it was a case of big man big voice as he boomed out across the room with "Dust & Memories" his single from earlier in the year. Next up a slower song co written with an unnamed person in Nashville who had lost her husband, "Better Broken" was extremely promising. To attempt to channel a bit of Emily Faye into the room Elliott had a stab at her new single "Open Road", and pretty much in a similar way as to when Jeff Cohen recently sang "Daddy's Little Girl" hearing it from a male voice seemed to transform your perceptions of it, the sign of a quality song in my book. A take on Drake White's "Making Me Look Great Again", was a brave thing to do and not a bad version either. The closing song "Nothing Quite Like Home" was full of American references about "Oklahoma" and "Southbound Trains" which seemed oddly out of place in a pub in Earlsfield but that small gripe aside this was an excellent set from someone drafted in at extremely short notice.
The last time we saw Fifth Floor as anything but a duo, they had a cajon player who was heading back to Sweden, tonight they perform with a full band, indeed the same band that play on the very album being launched "Heartbreak Talks". It makes for a very packed stage. as they start with "You're Not In The Picture Anymore", followed by "Heart In Your Arms" for which both girls arms are a veritable blur as they pummel their acoustic guitars. By the time they finish the third song "Ghost Town", sounding rockier than ever with the full band, the high street must have been on alert that something exciting was happening. Anyone thinking this event was just to plug the album was in for a surprise as we were also to hear old, songs, a cover and quite a few new songs, the first of which they've been trialling at recent live shows "You're Still Ugly (with my glasses on)" which comes with a chorus that immediately grabs you. Some songs like "My Backyard My Business" really benefit from the new line up, as does "Diabolical", with its speeded up section being especially well suited.
Things slow down for a little bit for the title track and then perhaps the only song that does not work out so well is "These Days" which may have sounded better if just left to Moa and Matilda as the electric guitar slightly drowned them out. A whole batch of new songs follow next, "Coastline" detailing that calling to be near the sea "Where my heart is free", which was followed by an absolute hoot of a song based on a true story that happened to Matilda called "Crazy Jesus Lady!" which has great guitar work in it, and a coda that says "She's going to save ya". The joy of doing nothing at the weekend also now has its own song in "Any Day But Sunday".
Surprises a plenty continued as the packed stage became even more crowded with the arrival of Two Ways Home. for a piece of southern rock, "Anarchy". Eventually it was back to the album for "Bought Me A Lie" before some very nice words for W21 for our praising of perhaps their most "Heartbreak" of songs "This Girl" with its great if tragic pay off line, this version coming with a well matched electric guitar solo at the end. The joy of Fifth Floor much like the Worry Dolls last week is the sheer enjoyment they exude when they play and when they sing together the power of their combined voices is extremely effective.
One of their older songs "Before The Last Song Plays" was a nice contrast between those who bail out on gigs before the last song with those who give up on relations just as the best bit is about to come. It's a great song they should be proud of. One assumes in Sweden, learning Abba songs is probably on the school curriculum and there were broad smiles all round for a rocking version of "Does Your Mother Know". From one piece of sublime pop to another with "Sipping On A Coke", surely one of the brightest songs of the summer, complete with audience singalong, "Wake the Neighbours" was the cry from the stage! The end had to come as there was an adoring public waiting to meet and greet the band and purchase their albums, so what better way to end than "Drink It Away".
So despite everything the spirit of the Sound Lounge continued, it even got its own round of applause, Fifth Floor got their album launched successfully and even Emily Faye managed to get her single plugged without leaving her sick bed thanks to the wonders of Elliott Joseph - all in all a great night all round.