When I first heard the words: ‘girl power’ I was pre-teen, on the brink of my pencil skirt ‘business’ days at school, when I thought I was going to be an actress or lawyer – darn it. I was not a fan of the Spice Girls or boy bands, and instead followed my brothers 90’s music lead and listened to music like Blur, A Tribe Called Quest, Radiohead and dance music without an iota of blurriness. I also liked music I found in my Dad’s record collection – which he gave AWAY- and stuff like the Beach Boys, The Beatles and weirdly, The Carpenters.
Despite professing my lack of ‘girl power’ love, I still had some girlie music in there, just it was dressed in combat trousers, layered red hair and pouting as opposed to screaming prancing. Examples: My first CD album was Alicia’s Attic – “Alicia Rules The World, ahhh haaa aaah ahhh.” I also had an All Saints album in there, I loved Shakespeare Sister’s song, “Stay with meeee.” And I thought Friends was the best thing on TV, whilst Miss Selfridge nail varnish and spaghetti strap tops – especially in red – were tip top cool.
But I didn’t really want to go around shouting about girl power, I just wanted to have fun with my friends, make beaded bracelets, read books and Bliss Magazine, beat my brother at most things and hang out with the skateboarding people. This is probably why I ended up being Posh spice when we had to do a cabaret show on a school trip. Urgh, my black spaghetti strap top and I hated it.
There followed a plethora of stages: business, 70s, grungy, business etc.
Since then I would say that girl power has changed. There are a lot of essentially naked women singing about dominating things and of course there is Cheryl Cole. The idol. I would say that whilst these women have good spirit in them and I have screamed out one or two of their songs whilst driving, they’re nothing on Kate Bush or indeed, a classic 80s power ballad. Or Dave Grohl – going back.
But whilst there have been the show girls, a whole bunch of AMAZING lady singers have also come out to celebrate, with voices to stop trucks. I mean Anna Calvi, Lia Ices, Florence Welch and Alex Winston, the latter of whom I saw the other night at The Cooler, Bristol.
Marching on stage, beaming, she looked happy and confident in her high waisted trousers and enormous heels, her thick wavy hair making her look like a Princess character from an old book. Her voice is a belter and she tries her her hardest to envelop the audience in it. After a tiny bit of encouragement, the initial shyness of her fans, evaporated. The female audience members got completely lost in Winston ‘I can call my horse from the other side of the mountain’ power voice. They were at the front singing along, smiling and dancing. The Cooler, it appeared, had literally transformed into a girl’s bedroom. With hands flailing above, brows furrowed with the hearty vocal high jumps and nods to each sister in the room. Alex was loving it and focused in on those with most enthusiasm, trying to pump up those resting on their pretty pumps. She mentioned that she had ‘some beers with a couple of girls in the bathroom. They’d come here two hours early’ and dedicated a song to them. Internal SCREAM more. “You girls are the reason I do this”.
I’m not going to lie, when I first arrived at the show, I was slightly lack luster myself, I really like Alex [see my interview here] but I was a bit tired – blah. But by song two, I was embracing the sisterhood. The energy and spirited performance, along with some super [catchy] 60s with a smidge of rock sounding songs, had me twirling with the girls.
Poor old Charlie though. And all the other men. Stood at the back, watching on. Bar a couple of men who Alex sang to. Suffice to say, it was really a girl’s show, more so than some of the other lady artists of late, but it was so nice and fun. Happy and powerful in a free and relaxed way – driving with the girls, a girl night – your soundtrack is sorted. I think if there had been perhaps more people in attendance, the boys would have gone for it a bit. I know Charlie enjoyed it, but I don’t think he’s seen girl power in that pure form much before.
Click HERE for my interview with Alex Winston.