Words and Photography by Shirin Hodgson-Watt
Ah, good lord, who would have thought that so far into my dotage it was still possible to feel the same kind of rush from a band that I used to get aeons ago in the dim and rapidly fading past, back when my fledgling metal feathers were first starting to sprout? A diminutive pub, smack bang in the midst of studenstville in Plymouth, might seem an unlikely setting for such a renewed sense of improper vigour, but believe me, it happens.
The night opened with an impressively tight set from local teens Black Leaves of Envy. They were perhaps a little uncertain initially, but I reckon they’ll soon lose that slightly coy edge as they were fully engaged and on top of their game, solid and well rehearsed, with some quite remarkable thundering bass (to these non-expert ears) from frontwoman Cerys Plenty. Most definitely a band I’d go out of my way to see again.
Although woefully under attended (I’m blaming the fact that the university has shut up shop for summer, for it would be the only forgivable explanation for this), and beset initially by repeated technical glitches, Courtesans rapidly took charge of the almost comically small stage, drawing the audience close for an intense, tribal, intimate hour, cherry picking tracks from the album ‘1917’ and recent EP, ‘Better Safe Than Sober’ (along with a brand new track, which my hazy memory is calling ‘Plague’, so if it isn’t… It should be), for what was effectively a warm up for the band’s appearance the following day at Amplified Festival.
Courtesans are one of the most exciting bands I’ve stumbled across in far longer than I’d care to admit, and I can’t believe there will be too many chances left to see them in such modest surroundings; take that chance while you still can. That such a powerful, magnetic performance was witnessed by anything less than a rammed-to-the-rafters crowd is nothing short of criminal; Plymouth, you’re on your final warning.