Emily Capell at The Crescent

Emily Capell is a one off Modette with a Beehive hair do, she plays witty self penned tunes on her Gretsch guitar – John Hayhurst caught up with her in York.

Review and Photos by John Hayhurst

I’m ashamed to say this is my first visit to the superb Crescent Community Venue in York, run by the brilliant Joe Coates and his Please Please You brand, it is such a great place for a gig. Stage is high enough, so everyone can see and plenty of space for a dance, mosh or shoegaze nod, and a good-sized bar for refreshments. This is ten times better than the Duchess ever was!

Tonight, it isn’t the headline band that has brought me here, it’s a witty London girl with a beehive do and a Gretsch guitar that impressed me so much at the Isle of Wight Festival last year – Emily Capell is supporting Watford’s young mod revival band The Spitfires tonight, and whilst it clearly isn’t a sell-out, there is plenty to shout about.

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Emily Capell is unique artist, I don’t know anyone else doing this kind of thing, the melting pot of talent where she draws experience includes country star Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer from punk legends The Clash, The Smiths? There’s definitely a jazz influence somewhere in there, and her social commentary lyrics cover unrequited love, celebrity lust, world events and the everyday life and troubles of a twentysomething female in North London. This is all wrapped up in a soft gentle voice, cheeky smile (sometimes a growl), and she could have been mod styled by fellow ‘BeeHiver’ Mari Wilson.

We kick off with Brixton Prison which is to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues, and if her backing band were here we’d have some ‘Ring of Fire’ trombone in there too. Sadly, Emily is on her own tonight, her backing band are brilliantly monikered ‘The 3 Pete Suite’ on account of the three of them being called Pete!

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No Worries is in a class of its own, a song about kids wearing band T shirts that they know nothing about, but the way she sings “No No No No Worries” has to be heard, it’s like a strange growl coming from the back of her throat as she breathes in.

“Shall we have a cover?” she enquires, “I haven’t got a setlist”. Then we get an acoustic mashup of Fever, Hit the Road Jack and Sway all smoothly interlinked and pitch perfect. She can really power through those higher octaves as she pulls her head away from the mic, it looks completely effortless.

One of the highlights is her intro description of Louis Matthews a song dedicated to another musician in her early career that she had a thing for, but the feelings were never reciprocated. “But it’s alright cos he’s got fat and has a baby now”. She has one foot on the monitor, sarcasm rules the night and her in-between song banter is almost as witty as her lyrics.

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It is such a short set, but in 20 mins she has everyone’s attention and that’s without hearing Joey her song dedicated to the footballer Joey Barton (yes, really!) Other songs reference Danny Dyer, Tupac and probably others I’m not aware of.

Her final song is Bonanza and whilst she previews it with a homage to the name of the plane that crashed and led to the deaths of Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens, it actually has nothing to do with it – it has more relevance to the 70’s Western TV programme. However, the thing this song has is an earworm chorus that will bury itself into your psyche for days, it’s simple, basically “B-B-B-B-B-Bonanza” replayed several times over and it will then vegetate there for weeks. This track features on her new EP Who stands with Latasha Harlins? so let’s hope there is much more airplay coming her way soon.

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Emily Capell has many festival appearances planned for the Summer and is back in our area for Live at Leeds on 5 May and a one-off show with full band at Doncaster Leopard on Friday 11 May. I’ll be trying to get to both gigs but in the meantime, to get the full live Notorious M.L.E experience watch this short You Tube concert of her performing in Cape Town.

Emily Capell played at The Crescent on Thursday 12 April 2018