Live review by Graham Chalmers
Dragonfly Tattoo: Closer to the Sun EP launch,
The Regency, Harrogate.
The story of how Dragonfly Tattoo’s lead singer and chief songwriter Vicky Whelan has gotten to the point of holding a launch gig for her band’s second EP Closer to the Sun is amazing enough in itself – such dedication to squeezing such great music into such a packed life.
But what matters, ultimately, is the music itself - and tonight’s live show upstairs in a swelteringly hot room in The Regency pub illuminates just far this talented all-round musician has achieved in so little time.
Following a typical offbeat but imaginative display by Adam Westerman’s newish band Oscilantern, basically 20 bands in one (much in the way of his legendary 90s Harrogate band Nothing) and the premiere of an impressive new arty Dragonfly Tattoo video, Vicky leads Dragonfly Tattoo on stage.
A couple of things are apparent immediately. Her band really can rock – despite that cello on stage.
And despite her delicate, windy hill demeneaour, this really is her band.
It’s not enough that Whelan writes these dark gems of songs, as feminine and artistically sophisticated as anything Bats for Lashes has ever done, she directs the other musicians throughout the show with nods and gestures and everything but a wink.
So much so, that she nearly forgets she is the star and she should take centre stage perhaps a little more wholeheartedly.
But Whelan is a class act writing classy songs and her over-riding priority is clearly to do these subtle ribbons of melody justice live first and foremost.
And that’s exactly what Dragonfly Tattoo proceed to do tonight.
Live renditions of tracks from previous EP Songs of Love and Murder prove this is no jazz-blues-cabaret act, though elements of jazz and blues are contained in their dazzlingly brooding sound steeped in the atmosphere of the moors.
Vicky and the band also prove that new EP, Closer to the Sun is a big step forward with convincing performances of Mad Cat Woman and its prowling menace, What You Leave Behind with its ethereal moans, Spider Song and its piano-led stately beauty and the EP’s title track with its slow burning dramatic rock dynamics.
With a better lighting show and a little more confidence, Vicky Whelan would simply be unstoppable for she is clearly one of the best unsigned songwriters in the UK.
For now a simply stunning ensemble performance of the as yet unreleased new song Deep C is enough to impress the small crowd - and the wider world, if they were to get the chance to hear it.