Monday, 19 October 2009

Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit - The Unedited Version

So, the wonderful London Word website that occasionally publishes my musings has posted my latest review on their site.
Here it is.

It is however heavily edited which I do not blame them for at all as I do tend to be far too rambling and artistic and I was supposed to be reviewing a band and not talking about myself. However, I was quite proud of my original version so I'm posting it up here.

I hope you all enjoy it. May I take this time to say as well that if anyone gets the chance to go and see Johnny Flynn, do. He's a wonderful musician and very handsome to boot.

Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit for Transgressive Records 5th Anniversary at Union Chapel, Islington

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am not “cool” in the sense which the compact Oxford Online Dictionary defines as “fashionably attractive or impressive (informal)”. To be more specific, I can hold my own in some circles. I do alright in the snotty nightclubs of SW and W London and I’m eccentric enough to fit into artsy circles, but amongst a folksy crowd well versed in alternative music and unknown bands, at a small, Islington venue; not-so-much.

I discovered the modern folk scene about two years ago and grew to love many artists under that casual descriptive-umbrella; adding track after track to my I pod where they lived amongst embarrassing company. However it was only when I heard Johnny Flynn that I felt enamoured enough to stray from my comfort zone and go to a live gig.

So that is what I did on Saturday 26th September. I dragged a friend with me who had no idea who we were going to see and actually favours rap music and electro- R&B despite her plummy tones and Surrey highlights. I also went with, wait for it, my mother and her friend. Perhaps this is not going to score me any rebellious, bohemian youth points, but she appreciates good music and is actually I think, more hip than me. So there we were an unlikely group pitching up at Union Chapel three hours late for the Transgressive Records 5th Anniversary Concert. We missed several of the other acts which was disappointing as I did have a hankering to see Jeremy Warmsley, who is a new favourite. We were far from inconspicuous as we arrived in the middle of Graham Coxon’s set and I began to wish at this stage that despite my later plans to go to a club, I had not worn a sequinned dress which reflected every light and rendered me a human glitter ball.

I won’t spend much time on Graham Coxon; he was disappointing and this view was held by others who are much more knowledgeable than me. His between song banter was quite funny, but I still miss Blur.

We managed to fit in a very quick bottle of wine in the bar before Johnny came on which gave me a chance to scope out the audience who seemed to me to be entirely made-up of long-haired, pouting, beautiful boys in holey jumpers. Having a weakness for these sorts anyway I couldn’t help but stare.

However, they were quickly forgotten when Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit – his eclectic and talented band took to the stage. Starting with Cold Bread, a favourite of mine, he was enthralling from the start. His songs are poetic and are Shakespeare crossed with Wilde with a nod to Bob Dylan. Live they’re even better, as his vocals are strong and smoky and seem both far beyond his years and time and full of youthful effortlessness. He’s multi-talented is Flynn as backed by his talented band he himself switched his instruments with ease playing banjo, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, violin and trumpet. His voice was never lost in the venue and rung out clearly, eerily transporting me to another time, though which, I could not say.

His songs Leftovers and The Box, two of my prior favourites and perhaps his most well-known got the most vociferous reception from the admiring, but generally still crowd. However it was The Wrote and The Writ, a song that seemed to chastise all the writers and poets among us that can only express ourselves on paper and not in reality that has since been repeating on my ipod.

After leaving the stage he came back for an encore singing one song alone on his acoustic guitar; a new one, not fully-formed but beautiful none the less. Then the band came back for a rousing performance of Tickle Me Pink, another great number filled with Flynn’s pretty but sometimes confusing poetry.

I left in a dream-like state and with, I’m not ashamed to admit it, a total crush which is often the result when I see or meet the talented. My companions were similarly glazed. However my flutterings aside, go and see Flynn and his Sussex Wit now, before they become well-known. I have no doubt that they will.

Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit can be found at

or at Transgressive Records

Their debut LP A Larum is out now in all good record stores.

(Image Copyright: Stacy Liu:

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