LIME GARDEN + PRIMA QUEEN – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 24.2.22
Tonight Lime Garden have a sold-out hometown show at The Hope and Ruin, and bearing this in mind I make a concerted effort to get to the venue before the doors open so that I can bag myself a decent spot. Imagine my surprise therefore when approaching the venue I hear the unmistakable sound of a live band onstage! Slightly panic-stricken I charge into the venue to discover a band playing live downstairs in the bar.
Somewhat relieved, I discover that this band is called Muff, and that they are nothing to do with the gig to be played upstairs. Muff are a young grunge-influenced band with angsty songs, featuring coruscating guitar soloing. Their last song is called ‘Feminism Dream’, and it is to be released as a single on 8th March, which is International Women’s Day.
Having enjoyed my musical hors d’oeuvres, I wander upstairs for the main event. Support tonight comes from Prima Queen who are a six-piece fronted by Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden. As they take the stage Louise and Kristin don cowboy hats. These however do not reflect in any way, shape or form the music that the band play. Their music could be described as broadly indie, but this doesn’t do justice to the variety of their material. It probably is sufficient to say that their songs are well-crafted, and there isn’t anything approaching a duff song in their set.
This variety is helped by the range of instruments in their musical armoury. As well as two guitars, bass and drums, there is a synthesiser, Kristin exchanges her guitar for a violin for one song, and the bass is accompanied by a cello. Their music is by no means sad, but one song, ‘Invisible Hand’, is apparently “about being really sad”. It is also their new single, which is released this week. It features impressively faultless four (and sometimes five) part harmonies. ‘Butter Knife’ is another sad song “about losing someone slowly”. It features the line: “Your funeral was today. Nobody could go because of the Coronavirus”. I must confess that I found this incredibly moving, and did indeed well up a bit.
‘Eclipse’ is accurately described as “a bit of rock ‘n’ roll”, and ‘Chew My Cheeks’ is probably the stand-out track of the set. Whilst not a hit as such, it’s probably the most likely to attract listeners to them. I do have one very minor complaint though. Louise Macphail’s lead guitar playing is joyously lyrical throughout. However, on nearly every song she insists on stamping on her harmoniser pedal to obtain an effect that sounds like a firework being let off and then falling to earth. There’s nothing wrong with this, but after it being used on the third song in a row, it becomes downright annoying! This is a shame as Louise’s playing is really interesting as it stands. Apart from that – everything’s good!!!
Prima Queen setlist:
‘Chew My Cheeks’
Check out their Facebook page HERE.
As Lime Garden take the stage they are greeted by an enormous roar from the sold-out crowd. It really does sound like the return of the conquering heroes!!! The first thing that I notice is that bassist Tippi Morgan has injured herself and is wearing a plaster cast boot. It is also evident that the band have been raiding Brighton’s vintage shops. Tippi is wearing a black Victorian dress that makes her look like a young Queen Victoria in her widow’s weeds. Vocalist Chloe Howard looks as if she should be tending a bar in the wild west, and guitarist Leila Deeley is wearing what looks like a long under-slip with a red school cardigan on top. I’m unsure of precisely what fashion statement is being made here, but it definitely is a statement. Unfortunately I can’t see what drummer Annabel Whittle is wearing, but I’m sure she is making a statement also.
However, the most important thing about tonight is the music Lime Garden play. This is the third time that I’ve seen them live, and they seem to get tighter as a band each time I see them. They must have a pretty rigorous rehearsal schedule! A lot of the songs already seem like old friends. They’re great earworms. ‘Fever’ is gloriously funky. Nile Rodgers would be proud of Leila’s rhythm playing on this song. Last time I saw Lime Garden I was speculating on who would be Leila’s influences as a guitarist, I completely overlooked Nile.
‘Swim’ is a brand new song. It’s also pretty funky. Vocalist Chloe abandons her guitar for this one, and her vocal is bordering on rap. It also features a synth pattern triggered by drummer Annabel. During ‘Marbles’ guitarist Leila plays the most complex figures without even looking at her fingerboard. As a guitarist myself I must confess I’m a tad jealous. I’m not convinced that I could do that. ‘Funeral’ is another brand new song. It has a synthesised bass riff that has a large hint of glam rock about it.
As we entered the venue tonight we were each given a raffle ticket and told to keep hold of it. What I certainly didn’t suspect was that about two-thirds through Lime Garden’s set they would indeed hold a raffle! This is one of the funniest and wittiest things that I’ve seen done at a gig for a very long time!!! The band play an instrumental which would sound perfectly at home as the theme tune for a game show. Meanwhile, Chloe hams it up gloriously, announcing the winners and handing out prizes. This girl was born to front a band!!!
During ‘Clockwork’ the crowd sing the words, and Leila loses herself in the music, throwing guitar hero shapes and playing the strings on the headstock of her guitar. Tonight’s gig has been a triumph for Lime Garden. Whilst this was a home crowd, if they can get this kind of reaction elsewhere, they could really be going places.
Lime Garden setlist:
‘Sick & Tired’
‘Surf And Turf’
Check them out on Bandcamp.