St John on Bethnal Green
Laura Groves’s latest EP, Committed Language, released on Bullion’s DEEK label, is a record galvanised by tasteful antique productions and curious songwriting, all submerged in waves of reverb. As you delve further back through Groves’s work, things start to get a little more twee, particularly under her previous Blue Roses guise. For this reason we entered the rather twee setting of St John on Bethnal Green with a little trepidation. There really isn’t much worse than twee. While there’s no denying her recent output has been exciting, whether this could be translated into a live scenario without Groves falling back on her more predictable beginnings – well, we hoped it could.
It didn’t take long for Groves to put such worries at ease. Starting with a pitch-perfect rendition of the EP’s title track and then continuing with some reinvented renditions of older stuff, Groves performance was highly impressive. The vocal phrasing in particular was something very rare, bringing old favorites like Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac to mind. Groves may not be quite in that bracket yet, but she’s certainly come a long way in a short space of time.
This is clearly in no small measure thanks to the DEEK label’s cultivation. Her band also deserve considerable credit, particular a lead guitarist who succeeded in pulling off some audacious soloing without coming across too overworked. By the end of the show it seems the entire room is pretty blown away. Groves returns alone for a delicate interpretation of Paul McCartney’s Waterfalls which seals the deal then, as Groves herself puts it, “it’s all over so quickly.”