You know you’ve made it as a musician when you can walk onstage displaying M1-length legs in an up-to-there sparkly minidress - and the only thing the blokes are checking out is your guitar technique. Ten years blasting out power chords stage right for Ash has made Charlotte Hatherley a bona fide, too-cool-for-school guitar heroine - hence the right to sport a foxy outfit whenever she pleases. Credentials – and wardrobe - established, tonight’s agenda consists of just two things. Reworking her second album ‘The Deep Blue’ as an intimate,‘Unplugged’-style acoustic set; and having the best time possible doing it.

Swapping Tim Wheeler’s boys’ club for a brace of female guitar-slingers, she saunters onto the tiny,fairy light-bedecked stage, relaxed as you like. To her right is Charley Stone, a mukka from her first band, Night Nurse; to her left, Jen ‘Stuffy And the Fuses’ Fuse, who has already caused a mass dropping of jaws with her brief but spellbinding solo support set.And jigging dementedly ahead, a wild-eyed accordionist, frantically transforming Hatherley's spike-pop debut single ‘Kim Wilde’ as a revved-up Balkan folk dance.

If you’re unfamiliar with ‘The Deep Blue’, know only two things. One: after four listens, its dark,compelling melodies will have colonised the space between your ears faster than a Spanish conquistador alighting on the Peruvian coast. Two: its convergence of eddying emotion and stormy revelation could easily translate into a downbeat misery of a gig. But it’s Mr Accordian who sets the tone for tonight.If the audience expected an evening’s worth of someone else’s unhappiness to wallow in, they’d have been better off checking out the Joy Division flick,‘Control’, playing in a Leicester Square multiplex down the road. What we get is self-deprecating banter(“‘Very Young’ is difficult to do acoustically, so this one might be shit.”). And, under the trio’s dextrous plectrums, a complete sea change, as the album’s ebb and flow of moods coalesce into something raw, urgent and completely irresistible.

During this pre-Halloween bewitching hour, the lilting ‘Roll Over’ and plaintive ‘Again’ transmute into shimmering seas on which float beseeching harmonies,and the punky, vengeful 'I Want You To Know’ becomes a gleeful campfire singalong. There’s a reworking of Simon Dupree’s ‘Kites’ ("Jen and I wrote this when we were in the Big Sound," quips Charley) and a stripped-down makeover of Abba’s ‘The Name Of The Game’. Gossip hounds, meanwhile, are rewarded with the chance to sleuth around Hatherley’s psyche, when she introduces ‘Be Thankful’, remarking, "This is a song I wrote after I left Ash, trying to make a negative into a positive."

This is no sour-grapes, get-the-last-word-in gesture to her former band, though. The truth is, Charlotte Hatherley’s got a third album almost written, a stackful of ideas and the constant nagging desire to get out there and play. That should see her through the next ten years at least, by our reckoning.











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Commenting On: Borderline, London, 24/10/2007 - Charlotte Hatherley








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7798 Posted By: John Clarkson (Edinburgh, UK)

Hi Sarah !I am really glad that you liked the review. Fair comment about the photos ! We really struggled to find any recent live photos of Charlotte at all which hadn't obviously been taken at an outdoor festival and which showed her with new shorter hairstyle, and, therefore, on this occasion had to compromise. A shame though, I would agree.

John Clarkson
Magazine Editor
www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk



7455 Posted By: Sarah Drauglis (London, UK)

Excellent review of what was one of the best gigs I've been to this year - shame the pictures are from somewhere else though! (they were all sat down, for one)


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