Cherry Pies with a Toxic Twist
If poncey new-age Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal was cooking up a tray of Cherry Brakewells his list of ingredients would probably include snails (because all his recipes do) and a slug of Tennessee sour-mash to intoxicate the mind, a generous fistful of gunpowder to spice things up a bit – and a large scoop of dry ice (to coooool it down some). Oh, and some fire. Yes, he would garnish the tray with a thick slice of fire.
This band is stickier and sweeter than the largest pot of Windsor Farms Shop Royal Jelly. These girls put the glory bee back into the honey-pot and then shake it up a little. After their gig on Thursday they are the buzz of the city.
What I adored about the girls when I saw ‘em is that their brand of melting hot guitar funk and red hot blues is so abundantly rich in vulgar tones and texture that you feel almost overwhelmed, drowned even, by the experience. The contrast between the sweet soulful high notes of singer/songwriter Shay and the dark growling thunderclouds provided by leggy bassist Monique and the ‘runway model’ drummer Chi was a blissful storm. It was an experience much like running towards the edge of a stark cliff knowing that, far far below, where the jagged rocks meet the sea, you will plunge into the ice cool waters of salvation. It was like being stung, and then devoured, by a fire serpent. Desperation and repentance all rolled into one. A beautiful agony. How to die.
The Cherry Brakewells cite their influences as based firmly in the Sixties and Seventies. Hendrix. Cream. Zep. That kind of thing. But there is more to this band than all that Seventies vibe. This is no SuperFly Baadasssss band. They may have big hair, big smiles and big confidence, and the roots of their music may lay in the past, but these girls look towards the future with confidence and pride. The songs may have serious blues foundations but are laced with touches of modernity. I could recognise influences ranging from Wyclef, Kelis and late M.I.A. right through to some more expected sounds like ZZ Top, Kravitz and Skunk Anansie.
Lead guitar is provided by the multi-talented Anna Calvi (she told me she has been playing with the Cherries for around six months now – she has her own very successful band and a host of other projects.) Anna tended to place herself behind (and to the side of) the sensuous and sumptuous trappings of the ‘power trio’ but that didn’t alter the fact that her input was as invigorating and ingenious as it was essential. Her style of blues playing has a cool sharpness to it and the sounds that she weaves from her effervescent frets fizz with electricity and energy.
The Cherry Brakewells put on a slinky super-sexy show with plenty of guts and gristle. Soulful highs and fuzzy lows create drama and add smoky depth to their theatre of sound.
Watch these beautiful girls growing up … they are gonna go all the way!