We’ve opened the first window on the Christmas musical advent calendar and we are back in one of our favourite venues, the Lexington near Angel in London.
This is another “take a punt” gig. I’ve been aware of Holly Golightly for years. Born Holly Smith, her mum also gave her a middle name of Golightly in tribute to “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”. Holly is great mates with Billy Childish, the prodigious Kentish legend and played in one of his affiliated bands, Thee Headcoatees in 1991. Four years later, she embarked on a solo career and has been prolific ever since, releasing over a dozen LPs plus numerous side projects.
She toured with the White Stripes in the States and when they came to Toe Rag Studios in Hackney (one of Holly’s regular haunts) to record “Elephant” at the end of 2001, Holly joined them on “Well It’s True That We Love One Another”, the last track on the LP.
In recent years, she’s been playing with her friend Lawyer Dave, in the Brokefoffs. I’m a fan of “Medicine County” from 2010. This has less of a garage rock sound than her earlier work and more of a bluesy or noirish quality, not a million miles away from my favourite from 2015, Sacre Cuori’s “Delone“.
The show at the Lexington was the first UK gig in a while. I’ve been looking for clues at Holly’s website but it appears that the website has been dormant for a while, only now receiving some TLC. Holly said on the evening that she’d been touring Europe and was happy to be back in Blighty.
This was an evening of simple pleasures. There were no convoluted solos, tricky time signatures or avant-garde treatments. We had a maximum of four instruments – two guitars, stand up bass and drums. Occasionally Holly didn’t bother playing her guitar, if she preferred having a sip of her Maker’s Mark and soda, delivered to order from the bar downstairs. This was music rooted in the glory years of the fifties and sixties – blues, garage, r’n’b, rockabilly, rock’n’roll, soul. It was played with economy and panache.
Opening with “Crow Jane”, from the Broke-offs LP “You Can’t Buy A Gun When You Are Crying”, Holly immediately started playing fast and loose with the setlist. The cover of The Sun Sisters “I Can’t Stand It”, a Sue Records cut from 1964 featured some lovely backing vocals from guitarist Badger, who also delivered some fat fuzzy guitar on “Fool Fool Fool (Look In The Mirror)” from last year’s “Slow Town” LP. The title track from the same album was delivered as a show blues shuffle, Holly expressing her discomfort at living in her adopted USA.
“My Love Is” was stripped back to just bass, vocals and drums before a long languid “Sally Go Round The Roses”. Holly was charm personified, relaxed and at ease in the familiar environs of the Lexington. She thanked her friends, family and fans and sent us back out into the cold December night warmed to the cockles of her hearts.
If anyone wants a flavour of Holly at the Lexington, here’s the gig, which was filmed too by her label Damaged Goods and available on the old Youtube.
As much as I’ve enjoyed my forays into the London Jazz Festival and Wilco in recent weeks, an evening of something so simple performed so well was balm for the soul.