Esben & The Witch, Madame Jojo’s, London

The red velvet of Jojo’s… It’s like the poppy scene in The Wizard Of Oz… Only darker, much darker.

Rating: 6

It’s a cosy situation, this. The “big freeze of 2010” has barely just begun. The first snowflakes of Soho start to settle. Baby, it’s cold outside. And Madame Jojo’s is so appealing.

Fingers burning with warm sensation, lips doused in vodka tonic and chapstick, the calm emptiness fills the low ceiling’d club. Void of sound, but not of body. There’s a crowd. Drawn in by the velvet red temptation (promise)? Maybe, but then Esben & The Witch are taking the stage, and that name is more than familiar to the current cosmopolitan muso.

Listed as “one to watch” from The Guardian to the NME, EATW are the perfect seasonal discovery. Haunting, cleverly eerie, they dub their sound “nightmare pop”. Gives off an image, doesn’t it? Oxymoron, anyone? It’s hard to comprehend, dark pop.

The trio do what they do well though. Vox, Rachel Davies is darkly beautiful; a treat to the proverbial young male adult. Long, messy hair, skinny legs and drumsticks. She beats the drum hard but sings so soft. Her deep, well articulated voice carrying across the room like a velvet lullaby. Winged by Daniel Copeman (electronics, guitars) and Thomas Fisher (keys, guitars), she is the centre of attention.

The pairing of Davies essence and the very music makes for a zombie crowd. Hypnotized. Pleasantly drifting off into a horror fairytale. A cosmo-goth fairytale. This sound echoes only that of other recent young London bands (see This Tawdry Affair, and Ipso Facto – the latter now dismembered). Some attempts at weak comparison consider Cocteau Twins and Portishead, but it’s softer than that, clearer.

Best known track, ‘Skeleton Swoon’ is tweaked and honed to perfection. In fact, the band should be lauded for their smooth performance. Maybe a sense of comfort brought on by the outdoor weather; a snowy coma takes hold. The red velvet of Jojo’s… It’s like the poppy scene in The Wizard Of Oz… Only darker, much darker.