Simonne and the Darkstars

Published On July 8, 2013 | By Tim Smillie | Music & Nightlife Reviews & Previews

I have never been one for attempting to shove musicians into hand crafted pigeon shaped holes, partly as it can appear somewhat lazy on the part of the writer and partly as it appears to be a somewhat unfair reflection on the travails of the artist. This is just as well in the case of Simonne and the Dark Stars as I would have been struggling to find a neat spot to jemmy them into. So thank you Simonne and Co for defying genre and making me have to write some original copy without borrowing from the pre-defined library of the musical class system.

On Saturday evening, the clock strikes ten and Simonne is altogether resplendent in red dress and feathered hat. Despite the tiny physical space she inhabits, she manages to fill a far larger one with her presence and a smile that could break hearts from across the street. The sound she produces is equally noteworthy and disproportionate to her stature. Her voice clings to the dark spaces in the Brunswick, candles flicker as she unleashes notes that dip and dive like starlings swarming over the pier. The songs generate a power that fills the room; the keyboard is commanded by Simonne and rightly it obeys her every fingertip urging. The melodies have a big heart and there is no room for ambiguity within each song. The vocals reach for the hinterlands of soul and at times touchdown in the classical backwaters but all the while you hold them tight to your chest. Add to all of this Mark the barefoot slide bassist who manages to tether the soaring segments to the stage, Billy’s rat a tat tatting on the drums, you are presented with a massive graffitied wall of sound .

On Love Like You Never, Simonne throws it all down and picks it all up piece by piece. Imploring the keys to tell the story with her, she scales each hillock with a deftness of tone before sliding down the other side into the echoes of the valley. This song builds it up, tears it down and recreates a pain that you feel obliged to believe.

The Brunswick experienced something special on Saturday and whilst the band take some tour time out to record their next EP, we will miss their extraordinary presence on the stages of Brighton and surrounding areas.

WORDS by Tim Smillie

About The Writer

I'm a writer, a runner, a poet and all round above average entity. A self-exiled Londoner, I've lived in Brighton for 20 years and am still revelling in living by the sea.