Gig review: Woman’s Hour at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Woman's Hour at Belgrave Music Hall. Picture: Gary Brightbart
Woman's Hour at Belgrave Music Hall. Picture: Gary Brightbart
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Five pyramids line the stage. They could be rejected millinery wear from the Pet Shop Boys’ last tour or, at a push, misshapen magician’s props that will be lifted to reveal the members of Woman’s Hour.

The rather more prosaic truth is that their cool, clean lines reflect the studied poise of the London-via-Kendal electro-pop outfit. It’s a sophistication that wants to be Jessie Ware’s smooth 80s soul yet comes closer to being Sade on ‘To The End’ and Swing Out Sister on ‘Conversations’, the title track of their debut album.

These soft-focus melodies transfer into a kind of maudlin submissiveness in singer Fiona Jane Burgess’ lyrics. “Take me I will follow,” she observes on current single ‘In Stillness We Remain’, her ethereal voice having hints of Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays.

Such qualities bring a certain knowingness to their mid-set cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’, which replaces the original’s stadium rock bombast with dreamily sexless swoon-pop. It’s nonetheless one of the few moments when they show they’re not afraid of big brassy hooks.

The only other times they experiment with bringing their gauzy tunes into sharper focus are on ‘Darkest Place’, a Chvrches style track that sees Josh Hunnisett performing an aerobics routine behind his synth, and ‘Devotion’, on which William Burgess’ crystalline guitar shows undue affection to The xx.

Both tracks come to an abrupt halt just as their slow groove starts to get interesting and reflect an overall set that’s so tasteful it cries out for a bit of dirtiness. This means that while the band have all the right reference points they don’t add up to anything more than Woman’s Twenty Minutes.

Gig date: September 26

Gig review: Paul Draper at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds