Words & Images by Shirin Hodgson-Watt
It was an ambitious plan by KWK Promotions: to put on a show by a Zurich-based band in a cave in Cornwall. But you know what? They only went and pulled it off. Carnglaze Caverns are just that, caverns. Slate caverns, to be precise. Set deep in Cornish woodland, surrounded by fairy gardens and with their own underground lakes, they maybe don’t fit many people’s idea of a typical rock (you see what I did there?) venue, but I can vouch that they make for a pretty magical, if slightly chilly, setting.
While the Caverns’ bow tie bedecked owner presented his curiously sweet introductory talk to the crowd about the caves (transforming them into the unique wedding / tourist / music venue that it is today was plainly a true labour of love), The Eyelids waited patiently onstage behind him, in a manner both surreal and splendidly quaint. This was a fantastic location in which to showcase their new album, ‘Cosmic Dust’, and as Kelly Green stalked the stage (occasionally wielding a fearsome theremin), ably backed by the twin voodoo rhythm section of Michelle and Louise Fowler and enviably serene guitarist Sharon Mitchell, their spiky psychobilly-tinged garage punk provided a confident and accessible opener for the evening.
With a quick flash of the wet wipes (it’s a make up thing), the twins were soon back, laying down the groove for The Sarah Marie Band, with this incarnation also featuring Samuel Howard on guitar alongside the main vision in white lace. A striking step aside from her Honey guise, Sarah’s voice lends itself perfectly to the rootsy, bluesier style showcased here in an all too brief set that makes one yearn for a full album. It needs to happen.
The Hillbilly Moon Explosion may have made the not inconsiderable trek from Switzerland for the show, but they had no chance of feeling lonely. The handful of resident bats, some of whom popped in to say hello, were somewhat outnumbered, with a pretty much capacity crowd in attendance, and if they’re a new discovery for me they clearly weren’t for everyone else. With the temperature in the Caverns a steady 10 degrees, The Hillbilly Moon Explosion’s fresh take on rockabilly, with occasional detectable continental flourishes reflecting their cosmopolitan European French-British-Italian line up, coupled with athletic double bass high jinks and a front woman so disarmingly cool it’s probably illegal in some countries (how can someone exude such molten sensuality with just a swivelly moonwalk wiggle whilst barely uttering a word?) cranked up the heat nicely. It’s always interesting seeing a band you’re not so familiar with through the eyes of their most ardent fans, and this was an intoxicating and passionate introduction. Consider me converted.