Over the past five weeks, Hello 2017 has seen bucketloads of ambition pass through the doors of the Old Blue Last. It’s been pretty much universally acknowledged that January’s blues have hit harder than ever this year, but these five gigs have given a window into the bands that are grasping 2017 by the neck and making it theirs.
James Canty’s set might be stripped back - either on piano or guitar, and joined by a bassist and drummer - but these are rough sketches of songs that could be absolutely massive when given a polish. When he takes to the piano, he’s a purveyor of bombastic pop; at the guitar, he becomes an intricate, rambling storyteller, and they’re two guises he takes on with equal success.
He follows Alice Barlow tonight, who opens the show with a handful of folk songs beefed up by a full band and a confidence carved from her recent stint supporting Whitney in Scandinavia. Alice has the ability to write songs that start sweet and handbrake turn into vicious and cutting in a heartbeat, and amps up the anticipation for her follow-up to debut single ‘In A Vice’.
After the Domino-signed Little Cub inject a healthy dose of grooves into proceedings, it’s a new-look Pixx who close the evening and the whole of Hello 2017. The introduction of a drummer into Hannah Rodgers’ live band gives her the extra edge and punch to become a truly great live act. Tours with Glass Animals and Daughter have sharpened her stage presence, but it’s the extra personnel that see her kick on fully.
The soon-to-be-hits that are set to make up her upcoming debut album won’t do her harm either - ‘Grip’ possesses one of the choruses of last year, and ‘Everything Is Weird In America’ matches it in the earworm stakes. Like so many have shown over the past month, Pixx is starting the year strong, and it’s frightening to think where she could be by the time we say Hello to 2018.
Photos: Emma Swann