Double-whammy night as I flipped between Alabaster Queen at the Southgate and Lottie J at the Crown, in search of the perfect evening’s entertainment.
Southgate, ah Southgate; hasn’t failed me yet. While the always excellent Long Street Blues Club will understandably ease the quantity of pedestrians hunting live music on a Saturday night in the Vizes, we’re seated seasonally between mid-autumn and the big C, and weather none too clement, it was a quiet start at the Southgate.
Gave me opportunity to become acquainted with an Alabaster Queen from Manchester, prior to her performance. Enthusiastic about her second visit to our gypsy canal favourite watering hole, claiming she thought she was eccentric until she turned up here. I asked her what’s in a tag, and she described her pale complexion attributed to this translucent form of gypsum namesake. The informative explanation which followed delved into marble imitation, statues being immersed in a bath and gradually heated is a process demanding great care; if the temperature is not measured, the stone acquires a dead-white, chalky presence. Yet the patterns created are diverse, relating back to a previous question when I asked what genre we were to expect, and she replied “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.”
Solo, the unique Alabaster Queen treated us to a series of elated covers, acoustic cabaret style with an air of positivity, confidence and tambourine. Off the starting block with Sympathy for the Devil and marching into Jolene, this queen delivered distinctively and fervently. Unsure if a song she called Jasper was her own writing, but this one wowed with passion. After a trip to bar, I heard a melody of Sweet Dreams and You Spin me Round (like a Record) flowing interesting into Bob Marley’s Pimper’s Paradise, an interesting choice noted when she surprisingly sang the toasted Damien Marley version, and made a stunning job of it.
With an abrasive voice characteristically resolute, Alabaster Queen is not about to whisk through an X-Factor final, yet made great work of Born to be Wild, and appeared to love every minute of her performance. The Floorshow was confident, the songs flourishing and therefore, this Queen deserves her crown.
I confess though, I sneaked out at this point, double-booked and on a mission to see Lottie J at The Crown. I passed a few groups either heading home early, or more than likely, heading in the direction of the Southgate, so I hope the audience picked up in the second half. Conflicting performance here, where at just 15 years old, Lottie’s voice is as smooth and silky as, well, smooth silk. The only similar aspect being her desire and passion. Chosen to take the keyboard out of the equation, Lottie used her laptop to provide the backbeat and concentrated on her vocals.
I cannot fault her voice; it’s perfected at such a young age it’s the envy of all others. My issue is with the surroundings, convinced the Crown had upped its previous rep as a rowdy cattle market of twenty-somethings, was quashed. I felt like a pensioner on a Club 18-30, my stubble too grey to be trendy here, amidst these trimmed beard perfectionists.
I’m not attempting to gripe grumpy old man style, The Crown is lively as always, we need this in Devizes, every town does. But I couldn’t help ponder if a plain ol’ disco would’ve been more apt, being Lottie sang so beautifully, profligate over a crowd hardly noticing her presence through chatter and noise. Likewise, Lottie needs to be pitched into an establishment where punters are appreciative and listen. There then is my dilemma, Lottie, in my opinion needs a session band who will take heed of this intelligent and imminent talent, who can cater for her sound and style, then she would be off the scale amazing. Yet, youth is on her side, and I wait in anticipation of her progress.
Outside my reservations were confirmed, as a young fellow angered at his unsolicited elimination and friends demanded he be allowed to return, despite the accusation he puked over the seats. There was an amicable conclusion without kerfuffle, and the chap wobbled away. I felt need of a scratch of the foresaid stubble, fine and dandy for the adolescent, unfortunately not my cuppa. If it wasn’t for Lottie, I’d rushed back to the Southgate, even if the pub Terrier attacked my shoelace!
Such a shame, with a tired Lottie J after a flight from her holiday, she performed immaculately, comparable with the Alabaster Queen, who in all honesty while she’s a well above average pub circuit act, Lottie I’m convinced is worthy of stardom, and time will tell, but really, The Crown is not the venue she should play.
For want of a grand Saturday, I received a mish-mash, to be honest. A great live music pub with a fairly great act, and a raucous glitzy bar with an extreme talent. To combine the two elements, one heck of a night would’ve been possible, c’est la vie.
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