Review: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis at Whelans on Sunday 6th May

Review: Justin McDaid

Photos: Abraham Tarrush

Oh the joys of the Sunday night gig. The initial pang of irritation on hearing that Londoners Kitty, Daisy & Lewis were to play on this night of forbidden pints quickly dissipated on discovering it was a Bank Holiday. Three nights into the weekend left many feeling slightly unsteady, but ready for some rocksteady. The momentum of this family band soon carried everyone back to full health. Whelan’s is full but not to capacity, leaving ample room for dancing and flailing of dresses. Accents of varying strains are to be heard all around the venue above the ambient music, a mixed bag of music fans among the expected rockabilly faction. The crowd is gently warmed up by the ornate guitar and sultry vocals of Gemma May, a laid-back lead-up to the main event.

Numerous guitars frame the sides of the stage and a formidable bass drum dominates as the band of siblings – flanked by their father Graeme Durham and mother Ingrid Weiss on guitar and double bass, both well-known musicians in their own right– lead in with Smoking In Heaven. It’s a raucous affair from here on in with keys being hammered and distinctive sideways drumming from the sisters. Don’t Make  A Fool Out Of Me is a cracker with some fantastic soul-infused drumming from Kitty and vocal beatboxing from Daisy.

Lewis meanwhile looks like something straight out of a Prohibition-era speakeasy, besuited, booted and Brylcreemed. When he gets behind the kit the gig really lifts off – he’s what’s known in the business as a funky drummer. New Orleans-style sounds are knocked out, as well as ska, blues, rockabilly and bluegrass. The sheer force of kinetic energy coming from the stage is a joy to behold as instruments and seats are swapped throughout the set.

Going Up The Country has the girls huddled over a mic and snare drum stage-front, a foot-stamping hand-clapping rendering, with the crowd becoming more vocal as this gig progresses. A storming bluegrass stomp leads the encore, with Kitty and Lewis on banjo. The night culminates with a wah-wah heavy improv jam with lots of build-up and noise. The crowd pulled their weight too of course, gradually being coaxed in to movement by the irresistible tempos and mid-gig ska trumpet of special guest Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis are a burst of unexpected dynamism – a live act that exude animation and passion, and one that swept the crowd along in the wave of their enthusiasm and musicianship. Their ma and da are no slouches either… y’all raised ‘em well Mr & Mrs KDL.

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