Female of the Species; Deadlier in Seend!

A glass half-full or half-empty scenario, to be at Seend Community Centre. The optimist in me ponders least it’s central, bang tidy between the Sham, Vizes and Trowvegas, or even if it matters if it is a wholly Seend affair, whatever; their Community Centre sure is a village venue to be proud of.

Neither am I here to dabble in petty town council politics. What’s been held at Melksham’s Assembly Hall for so many years and raised so much wonga for apt local charities, the local all-female supergroup Female of the Species’ outing now packed out the new place last night for their annual extravaganza, and as always, it’s a beautiful, highly entertaining shebang.

This time in aid of teenage advice organisation TeenTalk, the girls were adorned in costumes in a manner superior to anything gone before. With corresponding stage decor, they were looking absolute dynamite; gothic halloweenish, to suit the theme, and they knocked a series of sublime covers out of the park.

I mean yeah, with the look of celebrity divinity they charged the stage, opened with a more Bangles’ Hazy Shade of Winter than Simon & Garfunkel’s, followed it with Sledgehammer, but stars really came out on the third tune, with saxophonist Karen Porter’s matchless riff of Baker Street. Here the penny dropped for those not-in-the-know; Seend was aching towards a party in a calibre of magnitude, though I suspect many there were fully aware and prepped, the anticipation was positively buzzing.

The lesser capacity of this hall only breathing more atmosphere into their performance than ever previously. Yet either way in either hall, the frontwomen of these local bands, Jules of Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville, Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Julia Greenland from Soulville Express, Claire Perry from Big Mamma’s Banned, and solo artist Charmaigne Andrews, never have a Jagger and Bowie moment of Dancing in the Street. That upstaging yearning simply doesn’t compute with them, and with every year which passes sees them more harmonious and in solidarity, save perhaps the customary saucy banter! It’s the reason why it’s as firm a fixture on my calendar as Christmas.

A covers night it maybe, but one of the highest qualities, with each singer adding their own genre preference into the cauldron. The method is this combined acquaintance, the magic is in the pop diversity they nimbly execute together. An example came quickly, when Jools led a floor-filling blast of Dawn Penn’s reworked rock steady classic, No, No, No. Through slight Halloween themed Hungry like Wolf and People are Strange, each tune was building into a continuingly improving pop compilation, arriving at an apex with a breathtakingly soulful version of The Faces’ Stay with Me, verging on Aretha-level of greatness.

But none of this happened before a superb support set of originals by young Trowbridge country-pop singer-songwriter Becky Lawrence, who, donned in a tiny witch’s hat and accompanied by warlock-looking guitarist Dylan Smith (more on this chap at a later date) treated us to her crystal-clear vocals and acute observational wordsmithing. Particularly poignant was her single, Loud and 17, even if seventeen is a long-vapourised recollection for me personally! Such was the performance; both these musicians are bleeping promptly on my radar.

With the thought of Jools returning with her band, Train to Skaville for New Year’s Eve this year, as The Female of the Species blasted through their catalogue of wonderful covers, it draws a double line under Seend Community Centre as a seriously contending venue and their lively and diverse range of events. Quality night, as to be expected based on past experience, but with an added bonus of a Halloween spooky theme and in a new venue; enough for me to don some zombie slap, which promptly melted off my face in the heat of the dancefloor moment!


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