Saturday, June 07, 2008

Ida Awe

Ida Maria/Dan Whitehouse, Glee Club, Birmingham, Tuesday May 27 2008, 8.30pm.

There's an urban legend that if you wander the streets of Birmingham for long enough you will invariably chance upon an encounter with the Prykemeister. On the way to Birmingham's Glee Club tonight, our peripheral vision reveals everyone's favourite AI boffin rushing towards your confused correspondent with a bunch of flowers. Fortunately for all concerned, Prykemeister isn't acting on any kind of backcrack-fuelled impulse, and is in fact on his way to present said petals and stems to his girlfriend Huma.

Don't have time to go into detail with him about what he might have done wrong to require flowers (oh come on, they're always a guilt-edged gift, aren't they?) as need to get into Glee before their curfew. Support again tonight comes from Wolverhampton troubadour-type Dan Whitehouse, although unlike his turn before Lykke Li, this time he's unaccompanied by pianist June Mori. Whether it's this, or the fact that, unusually for Glee, it's a standing gig, Dan is strangely subdued between the first few numbers, despite confidently starting the set with his best song 'Somewhere I Don't Want To Go'. Halfway through the set, however, he becomes less preoccupied and refinds his mojo, getting, by the end of the performance, the best crowd reception we've heard for him yet, and plenty of interest at the merch stand after the show, where he's selling sampler CDs ahead of an upcoming album release.

Swedish-based Norwegian Ida Maria acts pretty much the rock star from the outset, wearing a top hat, leather micro-jacket and lairy expression as she wraps her distinctively rasping larynx over a collection of songs that include her three singles to date plus other tasters from her upcoming album (due to ship late June). The standing-only format suits Ida well, because the music is essentially bluesy rock designed to get people moving and having a good time. Few blues-rock outfits have tunes as consistently good as these, however, and the presence and voice of Ida Maria helps the material transcend its' roots in the same way Rod Stewart elevated The Faces four decades ago.

The singles stand out, if on terms of familiarity alone, with the singer giving her all on the desperate denouement to former Parallax View Single Of The Week 'Stella', the feelgood folk fuzz of 'Queen Of The World' ratcheted up a few notches live, and the most punk-rock number 'Oh My God' seeing Ida dive in amongst the moshers for some sweaty catharsis. Of the other songs '(I Like You Better When You're) Naked' may yet be her breakthough hit, given its' catchy refrain complete with saucy sentiment seems destined to be chanted at student discos from here until at least Xmas.

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