Molly Beanland

The Lock Tavern, London - 23 May 2013

"Molly charms with her sincerity and depth"

[Molly Beanland poster]OK, so this was a first. I'm working away on Facebook one day (no, seriously, I was working) when one of those sponsored adverts based on your profile pops up. This one's for an artist called Molly Beanland, has a photograph of a young Debbie Harry look-a-like, music described as a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fischer-Price, and something about an imminent free gig (always an eye catcher that). Curiosity piqued, I clicked over to the FB page, then onto the Soundcloud streams. Seems our Molly pulls in a variety of influences ranging from Kate Bush and Liz Fraser on the vocal front, to making music by her own rules whilst taking inspiration from the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Elliot Smith to 80s New Wave and synthpop like New Order and the Eurythmics. Just a few minutes later I had concluded that I needed to be at the Lock Tavern in Chalk Farm the following week. Proof that advertising on Facebook does work.

A pub with a tempting line in house burgers, ten minutes walk up from Camden Town tube or five minutes down from Chalk Farm, The Lock Tavern offers a steady supply of gigs – often freebies like tonight. The performance space is tucked into a cosy bar on the first floor. A small stage in front of the DJ booth (labelled 'The Small Disco' in red neon) takes up about a third of the total available floor area, meaning space is a premium with a lively crowd squeezed in like sardines in a vertical tin. The too-cool-for-school (and good live music it seems) kids remain occupying their tables on the roof terrace outside. One of which I see is reserved for MTV. I wondered if that was significant, for what little I'd already heard online strongly suggested that Molly Beanland won't be unsigned and playing free gigs for much longer.

The three-piece live setup comprised two thirds female. The one male acted both as metronome and drummer on his digital drum pads. The female synth player piloted a vintage analogue Roland Juno-60. Both of which help anchor the sound in the best parts of the 1980s. Molly Beanland makes the formal introductions for anyone who hasn't specifically turned up for the show – which looks like no-one. “We're Molly Beanland...” she says before they begin “...well, I am... these are my musical friends" she clarifies as she quaintly gestures towards the two standing behind her.

Over the course of the following thirty minutes we get the gamut of Beanland's stylistic range. Not The Only starts by setting the mood down-tempo with its minimal drone synth backing and crashing percussion. The partisan crowd whoops crazily with delight. Our host already has a very firm (if modest) following. Secrets charms with its sincerity and depth affording Molly with one of the best platforms this evening for her lovely voice to shine. The project is clearly a venture that's evolving and the earnestness of youth is discernible, meaning tracks like Tokyo (Molly has a fondness for all things Japanese), whilst instantly attractive in a cute and accessible manner, I suspect won't have the longevity of some of the others. Two memorable tracks are chosen to close the evening, Electric and Night Dreams. The former the slower, quietly reflective one, the latter the radio-friendly, sing-along one. There are more gigs in London booked for later this month and in July. Chances are I'll be there as well, along with more enthusiastic crowds. None of us too shy to express our fondness and admiration for a seriously rising talent.

Set list: Not The Only, Real Life, Secrets, I Can Hardly Breathe, Tokyo, Electric, Night Dreams

Rob Dyer