The wonderful thing about London is that seemingly unassuming venues, even pubs can pull in artists from around the world. The UK’s capital city is often the geographical first stop for American artists who are on their way to conquer Europe – Obviously in the positive sense of the word. Marian Hill is strangely not just one person. In fact, the Philadelphia based act is made up of three musicians, all bringing their own unique sound and flavour to the table.
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Firstly, there is Jeremy Lloyd on keys, who is incidentally, a dab hand at performing live with samples. It’s Marian Hill’s use of warped vocals (think early Cashmere Cat production) that gives their music a flavour of mystic electronica. If Lloyd is the one who mixes the potions, then Samantha Gongol is the vocal witchdoctor to flirts and teases with you, charming your ears right into the front row. Marian Hill drip with seduction, but never give into sleaze; it’s all very tasteful. Even Steve Davitt’s improvised saxophone tones never tips their music into the realms of Jessica Rabbit silliness.
The Lexington’s crowd was small, and there was a generous amount of space to dance. Most of the audience were content with simply swaying and watching politely, such is the atmosphere of a Thursday evening crowd. There is still work in the morning after all. Support act, Tom Aspaul had the crowd bopping to a steady, Clean Bandit style sound which was for the most part upbeat and cheerful. “I usually play with a whole girl band” Tom admitted, “So if I’m singing weirdly on my own, that’s why”. His distilled down vocals were pleasant enough, and painted a laidback atmosphere in the room, ready for Marian Hill to take the stage.
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Armed with a laptop, sampler and a small set of keys, they kicked off their set. For electronic, percussion heavy music, it would be very easy to just press play and sit back on your lead vocalist. But the aforementioned live sampling, masterfully done by Lloyd, gave the set an extra set of homemade class. Truly though it was Gongol’s sultry vocals that had the room spellbound. As she gyrated and danced around the stage, making intense contact with her lyrics and the crowd, the audience were mesmerised. Playing their biggest and best-loved songs, the three musicians swooned through ‘One Time’, ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Lips’. Content wise, you know pretty much what you’re going to get from Marian Hill. Their lyrics are dripping with sex appeal, and that’s it. What you see is what you get.
“I want you…I want each and every one of you” she cooed as she rounded off their set, bowing to the crowd. After the obligatory encore section, Gongol returned with unfurled mermaid hair for another final rendition of ‘One Time’. The irony was not lost on us.