The Priscillas

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Concert Review by Natalie Homer

Somerstown Festival St Aloysius Hall, Phoenix Road, London NW1 – 9 February 2007

The annual street festival that takes place in the tucked away Somerstown area of London, behind Euston Station is a localised, community-oriented affair aimed at celebrating the cultural diversities of its people and places with the occasional fundraiser to support community projects. One such event took place tonight at the St Aloysius Hall – a grotty, dingy, smoky little working man’s club – the kind you think surely didn’t exist anymore and while it was a drab, shabby, kitsch place with fake wood laminate on the walls, old purple velvet on the stools and sticky carpets – there was something so sincere about the place that you couldn’t help overlook the aesthetics. The Priscillas were playing alongside a rock outfit called The Others and we had been promised a very, very special guest. Well worth the ten pound cover charge. It was for charity afterall. Pints were less than 2 quid, which also helped. And when you stick a rockabilly, punky, power pop group like The Priscillas in it – it turns into more of an arthouse affair anyway. There was a definite buzz about the place all things said and done that as I later found out (in the queue to the ladies) was down to the fact that the v.v. special guest was one Pete Doherty from Babyshambles. But don’t get too excited, as he didn’t turn up in the end.

The Priscillas are a 4-piece girl band with a sexy (in a completely innocent way – think Marianne Faithfull pre – Mars Bar) lead singer – Jenny Drag, a rhythm section with a 60s babydoll on bass – Kate Kannibal, a riot grill type on drums – Hege Hotrod and an Anna-Nicole-Smith-does-Rocky-Horror on guitar – Guri Go Go. With a look (and names) like this you’d be expecting some pretty angsty, man-hating fem rock but actually they are incredibly nice and smiley about it all. In fact, maybe too nice. I like a bit of PMT with my fem rock and I didn’t really get the ‘attitude’ from them. Instead, the singer is a charismatic ‘showgirl’ who works the crowd well and is to be applauded for this as she does engage with the audience (made up of part rockabilly, part mod, part Topshop crowd) getting them if not stomping at least tapping feet and clapping hands in a very happy, happy, joy, joy sort of way while she spoons out some saucy lyrics.

Three well proportioned girls and one waif fitted well onto this small stage to churn out signature tunes such as BRAIN SURGEON and RIP UP YOUR PHOTOGRPAH, which have been released as singles on the Damaged Goods label. Other tunes with anthem potential include SUPERHERO, Y.O.Y and WINNER with its bouncy basslines, power drums and plucky guitar. Jenny’s voice is a little soft against all this mayhem but it could have just been the PA system, except that I did listen to BRAIN SURGEON again just a moment ago on their MySpace page and…no…she doesn’t exactly belt the song out. That said, I really do still kind of like them. I like their look and what they seemingly stand for. I fear however that with Andy Chatterley (The Kill, Pussycat Dolls) set to produce their up-coming studio effort…they may just become too glossy for me.

Still if you prefer Jane Fonda to Bridget Bardot this could just be your cup of chamomile tea.