Wookalily album launch – Ulster Sports Club
It wouldn’t be a Wookalily album launch it it wasn’t touched by creative flair and imagination. The Ulster Sports Club is the perfect place with its peculiar retro-esque honesty and certain charm. Each table is themed to a song from the new album ‘Everything is Normal – Except the Little Things Inside My Head’. I sit myself down at the “Ghost” table – track 9 on the new album. There’s over-size Ghostie marshmallows and a Certificate of Death Day. Maybe I should move…
Golden, glittery strands for the back drop to a stage crammed with instruments – a screen loops graphics from the cover – the down at heel old lady with her robotic K9, a winged angel dog on top a vinyl penny farthing – images from the new Wookalily brand.
Entertainment from three support acts – first off jazz virtuoso drummer James Anderson, but on keyboards this evening trying out new, eclectic, mood-swing songs.
Ace performance poet Seamus Fox up next. Hard to believe it’s ten years since he won the all-Ireland poetry slam – but his quick wit delivery, rhythm and rhymes haven’t dropped the pace in this decade. Sure fire humour, humanity, honest to goodness social commentary, comes stream of consciousness style from his mouth. The years in Cambridge haven’t dimmed the accent – one of Wookalily’s biggest fans he’s made the trip here for the launch. Wouldn’t miss it for the world, he told me. He mixed the set with old favourites like ‘James Brown Funeral Directors’ and ‘Belfast Baps’ blended with new poems from his book ‘No Homeless Problem’ – seventy poems based on his interviews with homeless people. Now working for homeless charity and social enterprise Emmaus, the new book is sobering reading – but the inevitsble humour and cutting wit is never far from the surface, if mixed with pathos.
The wonderful voice of ardglass singer songwriter Pawet Bignall next – he’s in fine form. More wit and humour – songs about seagulls , shrews, Coney Island and Encounters with drunken Irish men in Danish pubs
Every bit of stage is taken up with Wookalilies and musical instruments. You couldn’t swing a cat. They’re proud as can be, you can tell, but a little bit nervous too maybe. Vocalist Lindsay says they’re making it a bit witchy, as only the Wookalily can. Straight in to ‘Escort Me’. Then the haunting ‘Ghost’, complete with spooky sound effects. And straight on in to ‘Old New Mills’. These woman don’t hang around – up to full pace now.
The beautiful dark velvet double bass steals the show. There’s something sixties in this tune – fits perfectly with the vibe and fixtures of the venue.
That distinctive French feel continues with the little accordion sound, Juno box, for ‘Touché’. Sharon’s banjo solos deserve special mention, and such a great song – a great sound alll round.
As whole album was recorded on analog, they then decided to do everything on their own. Seventeen or more instruments including the trumpet – but they couldn’t bring them all, so tonight the kazoo stands in for the trumpet on ‘Love Makes Me Sick’ – one of the sassiest songs from the new album.
The kazoo adds a certain something.
Five wonderful ladies – songwriter Adele Ingram, Claire McCreevy on just about everything, Louise Potter on drums and Sharon Morgan on banjo, double bass, bass, various guitars, with lead vocals and bass Lyndsay Crothers. It’s incredible how talented this multi-instrumentalist group really is, especially when you witness the logistics live.
A little macabre, tongue in cheek , humour – but there’s a deeper, darker undercurrent to the new album being launched tonight. a few songs from the last album – ‘Hands Pass In Time’ – a reminder of just how good their debut album was.
Lyndsay’s vocals were on fine form. Observing the concentration, every Wookalily was playing her heart out.
‘The Nothing Song’ isn’t about anything . Allegedly – except maybe emptiness. Nothing is something that you feel. ‘Welcome to the Fold’ about growing old and being out into a nursing home- a little poignant as I’d just spent the afternoon visiting an elderly uncle with dementia.
And an old lady in headscarf, saggy tights and robot dog paddles her away across the backdrop screen. “Nothing stays the same, I sometimes don’t know my name, just want to go outside and watch the flowers grow. A sign says Welcome to the Fold” sings Adele. Is this the old woman on the album cover, or is she ‘The Old Hag’, the title of a sinister song about sleep paralysis. It wouldn’t be Wookalily if it wasn’t a bit soooky though. That old hag in headscarf hovers on the screen back drop, eyeing us eerily.
From the first album – ‘See Me For You’ – a deliciously rich, ripe bluesy number. Staying bluesy and raunchy is ‘Black Magic Doll’, whipping up in to a crescendo frenzy.
Wookalily got a gig in a church recently. So they decided to write a different sort of song. It’s not on either album but they got their gospel on – with an old gospel song given the Wookalily treatment, ‘Travelling Shoes’.
Their version of Abba’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)’ is quite brilliant. Finishing up with ‘Vampyre’, a fitting end to a fine album launch, and the psi game embers of the weekend.
Wookalily are amazing and deserving of more attention on the local music scene. There’s nothing else quite like them. Unique to the core, these five women turn from one instrument to another as quick as time. There’s only one Wookalily, but five women making a wonderful sound.
I wish I could play the drums like Louise Potter.