Words & Images by Harvey Williams-Fairley

The Dog Days of summer are seemingly over. Winter jackets are being sported randomly as the weather tiptoes indecisively between hot and cold. Yesterday was possibly one of the chilliest September evenings I have experienced this year, the wind was crisp on my face as I set out to get the 253 bus from Manor House into Camden. I was venturing out to see Angie McMahon, Gretta Ray and Ainslie Wills. Three beautifully talented female Australian singer-songwriters.

I arrived at the venue, the Camden Assembly, a very dimly lit and cosy pub. The smell of the pub grub was immediately noticeable upon arrival. The perfect venue for chilly Monday evening. For those of you who have never experienced the Camden assembly, the music venue is on the first floor of the pub and is as intimate and as cosy as the setting on the ground floor.

The crowd was about to be treated to a revolving showcase of talent. The unusual format of this particular show was particularly interesting as each artist was allowed to play twice, but also, only for 15 minutes each time. This meant each artist had the chance to play three or four songs. In my opinion, this was quite a refreshing presentation for music being performed by singer-songwriters. I think everyone in the audience was thoroughly engaged with the music throughout the performance.

Gretta Ray London Camden Assembly
Gretta Ray by Harvey Williams-Fairley

Gretta Ray was the first of the three artists to take to the stage. Immediately shy and humbled by the intimacy of the setting, Gretta quickly romanced the audience with sweet and deep music. Everyone was taken aback by Gretta’s voice, it was so silent in the room that you could hear a pin drop in between her singing and playing the guitar. At the end of her first song, the crowd provided Gretta with a huge loving embrace, I felt as though Gretta’s performance took many people by surprise. Having listened to Gretta’s music back after her performance I can understand why her performance was raw in comparison to the level of production in her recorded music.

Angie McMahon was second to take to the stage. Equally as shy and as humbled as Gretta, although Angie’s performance was heavier, her sound was deeper and her presence was bolder. Fans of Angie took to the front of the stage and sat at her feet throughout her performance. Angie reminds me of a mixture of Anna Calvi and Courtney Bartnett. I think it’s the combination of the loose ties to country/folk in Angie’s music, mixed with a theatrical performance on the electric guitar. Angie’s unusually deep and heavy tone is unlike the sound of most female artists in the scene currently, but it was certainly refreshing.

Angie McMahon London Camden UK Australia
Angie McMahon by Harvey Williams-Fairley

Ainslie Wills was last to take to the stage, equipped with a lead guitarist and a drummer. The beating of the drums instantly had the audience moving, maybe it was something to do with primal urges but her sound definitely struck a chord with the audience. Ainslie reminded me of an Australian Duffy. Willis’ song Society really reminded me of Duffy‘s version of Warwick Avenue. Choppy and soulful, also the melodies are really similar.

Overall this gig was a trio of Australian delights. I highly recommend to anyone that they listen to all three of aforementioned women. Very talented people.


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