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The Lexington in London is fast becoming my favourite venue. It’s central, relaxed and now they’re doing members’ cards relatively reasonably priced (for London that is). It’s also pulling in some fab acts including the Divine Comedy, Tellison and more recently Ellen and the Escapades. Well worth the two hour trip from Bristol. Supporting Ellen and the Escapades was the hard-working Northampton four-piece My First Tooth. Their energetic folky pop sits the right side of twee and induces big grins all round. As well as playing the more prominent tracks from their 2010 album Territories, including the undeniably catchy Orchards, they showcased some newer material, including a song which was finished that week. The newer stuff appeared to have a bit more maturity and a bit more bite than some of the earlier stuff so look out for these guys this year as the best is yet to come. They ended with their forthcoming single Sleet and Snow, which forges that dreamy big Beiruit sized sound and makes you wonder just how they do it with such a small but perfectly formed troupe of musicians. What’s more they’re flying the flag for female musicians with the milti-talented Sophie on violin, drums, vocals and a motley bunch of other delights and Joda on the bass – go ladies! So from one beautiful band to another, next up was Ellen and the Escapades. Ellen is one of those understated beauties, an apparently shy girl with the most husky, honey-toned, perfectly pitched voice ever – think a Laura Marling / Thea Gilmore / Joni Mitchell mix. Backed by a band of guys (including a bit of a Napoleon Dynamite-lookalike) Ellen didn’t just stand there looking pretty and singing but held her own as a guitarist too. You could imagine her music as the soundtrack to a yogurt ad, a couple of young lovers sat under a tree in a Spring field spoon feeding each other Petit Filous. Or something. Despite her clear Northern twang when speaking to the crowd between the songs, when singing she has a slight air of Dolly Parton about her but not in a massively cheesy Deep South way but in a massively endearing way – this was particularly the case in the rhythmic dream, Preying On Your Mind. So many bands have written songs called Run (Snow Patrol and Amy MacDonald to name but a few) but Ellen and the Escapade’s Run may just have clinched the top spot for bands called Run, with the poignant line: “Swallow your pride, chase the setting sun..” The gig ended as wonderfully as it started – from the emotional opener Without You to the final track of the encore, Coming Back Home – which sparked a mass singalong. They’re playing this year’s 2000 Trees Festival and Green Man so be sure to check them out.

Words: Laura Williams
Photo: Sam Saunders via Flickr