Illustration commissioned by me: by Alice Potter
The violinist comes on stage. He’s very tall and his tailcoat, wide tie and long hair and mostasche are how I consider a more genteel England might be attired. He looks considerate and pensive in a poetic sense. The rest of the band come on stage. Then the two female singers who are Smoke Fairies quietly take their places at the front. They appear a little bashful, but they have determined stares as they attach their instruments and look out to the audience. Their small frowns and concentrated expressions make them appear like they have been thrust on stage and are finding themselves dazed by the lights. Starstruck by their situation. But also it feels like reassurance; the two, dressed in black mini dresses, are focused and aware that they behold the potential to have an audience in the palm of their hand. They look out and they know that a mood can be changed by the unison of their voices. They’re not nervous. Because their music is blinding.
I’m telling you when they play together live on stage, it feels, well… I will have to use a simile – here follows: You know that advert for Ireland, when the lady is singing in her Enya (is it her?) voice and the camera is sweeping over the ridiculously green fields and coastlines of Ireland? A bit cringe but you get the image, it feels like you are the sweeper – as in you are sweeping/flying over amazing landscapes. Possibly wearing some tweed, definitely a cape with a hood. The music is more The Cranberries than Enya, but the flying sensation fits.
Happily Julie’s singing on stage was as sweet as it is on her album, but with the high notes hitting the rooftops. Hearing her explain each song’s meaning was a delight not often had. And seeing her acting out the songs, her face frowning into the mid distance and then smiling… looking to the imaginary stars – made her album’s preconceived character a reality. Her feelings manifesting themselves in her music, she seems almost vulnerable, but utterly lovable.