Old Street, London22/03/11
Think of a pop star who dresses the dubious side of sane. Now ask yourself this: when Lady Gaga was playing underground warehouse venues like London’s breezeblock lined XOYO was she in outrageous character even then? Okay, the answer is ‘no’ because Gaga, despite what she’ll have us believe, is a manmade product; a marketing trick conceived on flipcharts and spider diagrams; and marketing tricks don’t play the XOYOs of the world. Not ever. But if she were more Fever Ray than contrived 1980s Madonna, the answer would probably still be ‘nah’. Not in the case of Cameron Mesirow, it seems.
The basement is full, but it’s still a basement in London’s glam-free east end, and here’s Glasser wearing unexpected oriental garb and a couple of clumps of Blu-tak on her head; her band in pastel boiler suits. Stylistically, it’s Yeasayer meets Bjork. And while Mesirow jerks her shoulders and spreads here arms through the tribal rumble of ‘Apply’, the message is clear – this might be ‘an act’, but it’s one that she’s confident will soon be on bigger stages where pop can be comfortably fantastic.
There’s little doubt that she’s right, and minus two a cappella hymns that have us holding our breath as if at a Feist show for one, the songs that make up debut album ‘Ring’ (all of which are played) can never be loud enough. “Turn it up” is the overall criticism, which, truth be told, can probably be achieved with one onstage switch, regardless of what the live band setup suggests. There just seems to be a lot of electronic equipment up there for a sound this organic.
Samplers over humans is no doubt a forced decision for Glasser right now though, and to dwell on logistics when Cameron Mesirow’s cries are as poignant and soaring as they are is definitely a little unfair. Until the basements swell to warrant an orchestra worthy of Glasser’s choral world hymns there is no doubt that she is playing the part of conceptual artist as passionately as possible.
By Sean Denning
Originally published in issue 26 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2011