Sky Valley Mistress @ The Cinnamon Club, Altrincham
“This is one of the quietest shows we’ve played in a while.”
Altrincham’s Cinnamon Club may be far removed from your archetypal rock n’ roll venue – your feet don’t stick to the floor and it actually smells nice in there for instance – but what tonight does do is showcase Sky Valley Mistress’ versatility as a live outfit. More accustomed to belting out there dingy, blues heavy stoner rock in filthy dives across the country, The Cinnamon Club provides an altogether classier affair. I mean, how many rock shows have you been to where there are neatly arranged tables and quietly flickering candles? Consequently then, the Darwin band showed an awareness of tonight’s assembled audience and tailored their set fruitfully around that.
There’s no thunder clap boogie of Smoke Fairy here, instead they delve into softer, more soulful numbers like the moody Dirty Blonde Blues. As ever, Kayley prowls the stage, just as lost in the groove as the audience, treating her mic stand like a rag doll. While the dynamics are soft, a shadowy menace lurks beneath it all, Callum Squire’s mud-thick fuzz tones crackling atop Russell Russell’s sultry bass lines; they manage to be heavy in a completely different way.
The audience reaction may feel somewhat reserved - no one stands up, no one shouts, it’s all so civilised - but there’s no doubting, from the looks on their faces, that they aren’t impressed. The feral animal that they are has here been metamorphasised into a smooth and swaggering blues band tailored to their tastes and you can’t help but admire the professionalism they have executed such a transformation with.
“This is one of the quieter shows we’ve played in a while, Phil will tell you that. He’s seen us a few times before.”
They may have turned the dial down for gentler version of the long, psychedelic blues trip that is Baby My Time Has Come, but their class remains intact. Kayley Davies’ vocals turn from roars to purrs excellently, a hint of Grace Kelly glistening through their smoky sound. The drops get their hips swinging, even if they audience stay seated, their enjoyment spreads across the room.
Wishbone bares its venom filled canines with a spit of grinding guitars and angsty lyrics which juxtapose more melodious, free-flowing passages. The band are excellent songwriters and here is solid proof of that.
Every band will, at some point or other, face certain challenges and problems. Every good band will come out of the other end of those challenges not only triumphantly but richer for the experience. This may not go down as the most memorable of shows for the band themselves, but the way they changed their guise while keeping true to themselves and their fantastic music is beyond admirable. They play Grand Central on May 7th which promises to be another rambunctious affair, but tonight, to see this band in a more laid back environment is a real treat.
Words: Phil Weller