Tilly and The Wall, Slow Club
Miss Fliss 25/10/2008
I want to see Tilly And The Wall shine in the top ten charts. I want to see Tilly And The Wall smiling from the front covers of pop magazines. I can imagine the band having their own rainbow bright clothing range and scores of mismatched, Punky Brewster fashioned imitators, and the inspiring of a generation of teen females to get up and sing and smile and dance.
Tonight's student union bar gig soon fills up to sell-out capacity. And the core Tilly quintet explode onto stage like the opening of a champagne bottle, all glittery, colourful clothing, beaming eager grins, and shimmying along to the delights of their own songs.
So how can it be that for the bulk of the gig, nary a soul before them is as much as nodding their heads along?
Never mind the English reserve, I want to leap up, shake my whole body, bounce about, join in vocally with a big blatant grin. At the earliest Tilly gigs, I would happily be able to because venues were compact but with room to breathe and move. But the ULU venue tonight is so tightly crammed with bodies that it's almost impossible to dance without making cumbersome contact with strangers around you. When I do dance, people look startled that someone would dare practice such a thing so far from the front. But Tilly make me feel so free! The melody is candy-sweet catchy like the loveliest lullabyes, or the most invigorating anthemic protest songs. The tap-dancing capers on stage look and sound so much fun. To be detached from all of this and to merely stand blank and staid, feet clamped to floor, is to be the antithesis of everything the band are about.
The Tilly cannon is girly choral notions, 60s innocent 'doo-doo's and 'lala's, shimmering tambourines and maracas, elegant keys, and often flamenco-like guitar, all wrapped up in clunking great rhythmic seduction. The three ladies in the band are at the forefront, singing sweetly or moving with grace, and every time I see them (and I've seen them half a dozen times across the past 3 years) they seem wonderfully gleeful about being up on stage, a rare sight in live music where it's so easy to get complacent or jaded or lazily go through mere motions.
Tonight there's the addition of a real live drummer, to complement the toe-tapping pleasing clatter of the ever dancing Jamie, and singer Kianna is frequently freed up from bass duties with the arrival of a touring bassist, so she can give the frontwoman position her all. All these people make for quite a confusing clutter on stage when once I was used to the firm five of the line-up, and it's hard to know where to look.
The new Tilly album might be a mixed bag, but when they draw from all three of their creations, Wild Like Children, Bottoms of Barrells, and the recent O, the variety is splendid, and every single song is shot through with joyous undulating melody.
My highlight tonight is the berry burst that is Nights of the Living Dead, in all its fizz-pop-friendly glory. On paper, it won't come across, but with fists in the air and feet leaving the floor, as the glister of magnificent melody weaves through your ears and heartens the soul, shouting aloud and along the words: I wanna fuck it up! I wanna fuck it up! And I feel so alive, and I feel so alive, and I feel so alive, and I FEEL!
That's the crux of Tilly And The Wall, they make you feel a great swelling love for life, as if you're being taken back to your childhood play days of wildest adventures of the imagination or of bright new discoveries in reality. As with the very best of pop music, they light up your world, lend a sense of absolute abandon that's a thrilling ecstasy.