I can only find three words to describe Billie Myers and contrary to expectation they’re not ‘kiss the rain’ but instead ‘what the f**k’. I mean that in the nicest possible way, whilst feeling like I’m only just recovering from two and half hours spent in a parallel universe in a room above a pub in Hammersmith. There is laughter, there is poignancy, there is even a moment when she removes her shirt and strips to her bra. There are ten minute rambles (which leave most of us wondering whether or not she did or didn’t sleep with backing singer Jane) and somewhere in the midst of the chaos, there are songs.
Nevertheless, despite spending half the evening doubled over with laughter there is also something very earnest mixed up in everything. The set is half rehearsed with various false starts and at times the vocals shift from being outstanding to pitchy, but as Billie stops in the latter half of the night to talk openly and honestly about her own experience of depression before Please Don’t Shout it becomes clear that this is at least in part due to vulnerability and nerves. You see, it’s at this point I’m reminded that the biggest critic in the room is stood on stage, singing lead vocals to new and old songs and trying to rebel against the ‘one hit wonder’ label she’s been given.
Rebel she does and songs from the new album, especially current single Wonderful and the sultry You Wear Heaven, are catchy numbers which highlight her husky vocals. Yet it’s I Hope You’re Happy Now which Billie suggests might be the next single and contains the perfect amount of angst to carry it through, that really stands out. “If I’m going to live and die by a song, it’s got to be one I really like” she says in the introduction, but I for one would be let down if this really did mark the end of her career, as the song has the potential to fair well on the radio.
Elsewhere we’re treated to old songs such as You Send Me Flying and Afraid Of Spiders as well as the timeless Kiss The Rain. Add to this two renditions of happy birthday, Mariah Carey style vocal duels between Billie and Jane and a guest appearance from Silver Holmes, and it’s fair to say that Billie Myers is back with songs as solid as on her debut Growing Pains. The only question is whether tonight was quite the re-entrance she intended to make.
Images copyright © Jo Cox. All rights reserved.