Interviews

31/01/2014

Diane Birch showcase: All the way from Williamsburg.


In the elegant surroundings of Century members club, Diane Birch has some minimal branding on one wall. No promotional stuntery, no gimmicks, no canapes. Luckily she is the kind of artist that is 'all about the music'. And a large glass of wine.

There is a strange group of people assembled, and I don't recognise anyone. Not that I know everyone in the print media, but there are usually faces; instead all the conversations I hear are about TV and radio. One particularly loud conversation was someone booking acts for a high profile camp chat show host, declaring "we've already scraped the barrel, but it'll be fun to lift up the barrel and see who's underneath it". I live for these moments, listening in on the outside.

Perfectly timed to arrive once the room had swelled, Diane is introduced on stage as "flying in all the way from Williamsburg", essentially hanging a big HIPSTER sign hanging around her neck. Everyone onstage is dressed all in black, with a rogue grey sleeve on the keyboardist. With no prior knowledge of Birch, immediately we're launched into Pat Benatar territory. Soft rock guitars and those vocals, both pure and dated at the same time. The first song was something about how hard it is to look good in pink. Or specifically pretty in pink, and the self-conscious retro references went off the scale. It's knowingly drawing on these old song sounds and trying to tease them out into a 2014 palate. It reminds me of someone modern too.

The bassist was hot, all pouty enigmatic smiles which made her more engaging to watch than Diane. There was the usual polite showcase clapping which ended abruptly, leaving Birch to fill in with a "hurrr hummm". A joke would've been nice. By the fifth song, she'd swept up into an upbeat verging-on-Taylor-Swift moment, but that comparison is wildly inaccurate; though I couldn't shake Stevie Nicks from my mind (and Phil Collins, thanks to her twitter bio) the epiphany finally came. She sounds a bit Lana Del Ray; especially on the song that starts on about butterflies and goes on to a mega-hit refrain of 'we are superstars tonight'. *Does an elementary google* This one: All technique and no emotion, Diane left me cold. But she's yet another artist with everything lined up, should the stars align and decide we need another kooky alterno-popstar to royally sit ontop of the Billboard 100 for a few weeks.