It’s Independent Venue Week (IVW), the annual 7-day celebration of independent music and arts venues and all of the people that own, run and work in them. Here in the UK in 2023 IVW runs from Monday 30th January until Sunday 6th February and in a further cause for celebration this year marks the 10th anniversary of this unique event which recognises the important role played by these venues in not only supporting and helping to develop the national live music scene but which also contribute significantly to their local communities.
More than 200 venues take part in IVW, one such being The Crescent in York. It is the city’s premier independent live music venue. And tonight’s show is being put on by Please Please You, the city’s premier independent live music promoter. It seems entirely fitting that the two acts appearing here tonight – Rozi Plain and Mayshe-Mayshe – have long-standing and very happy associations with both the venue and promoter.
The stars are therefore all perfectly aligned and just as the occasion deserves there is a very healthy turn-out in The Crescent tonight. And the home crowd immediately get behind their local DIY synth-pop hero, Mayshe-Mayshe – the solo project of York-based musician, Alice Rowan – who puts in a great set featuring songs inspired by Taylor Swift (‘Eczema’), the imperious title track from her second album, Indigo, which was released last November to widespread critical acclaim, “a nice song about dying” (‘Ecology’), one sung entirely in Dutch (‘Zachter’), and another ably assisted by the strains of a small hair dryer (‘How To Be Happy’). Hers is a talent that is as infectious as it is versatile and inventive.
Rozi Plain tonight dispenses with her regular “rule of ten” – every single one of her five albums to date has ten tracks on it (nine is never enough, apparently) – by playing thirteen songs in total, including a thoroughly well-deserved encore in ‘Actually’. She has moved effortlessly from her usual position to the left of centre when playing bass guitar in Kate Stables’ wonderful musical adventure, This Is The Kit, to being stood smack dab in the middle of the stage. In her red cardigan, Pozi band T-shirt, and a cap bought in a Japanese angling shop twelve years ago, she assumes the role of frontwoman with remarkable ease, equanimity, and a lovely gentle humour. Her dedicating the entire performance to everyone, who, like her, had just completed their tax returns today merely serves to illustrate the point.
It has been less than three weeks since Rozi Plain released her fifth album, Prize. It’s a cracking record, unquestionably her best yet. It plots a delightful path built on the pillars of texture, groove, and collaboration. Here, with an impeccable band – one that includes drummer Jamie Whitby-Coles and guitarist James Howard, both of whom feature on Prize – this sense of alliance, inclusivity, and community spirit is there for all to see and hear.
As you would expect, Prize comes well represented to The Crescent. Rozi Plain plays no less than eight songs from the album. They all sound great in a live setting, perhaps no more so than on ‘Help’, with its delightfully gentle repetition and perfect jazz inflections, and the ensuing ‘Spot Thirteen’ during which Howard’s guitar acquires an absorptive intensity.
It all makes for the most fantastic of starts to The Crescent and Please Please You’s Independent Venue Week celebrations which continue abound with Willie J. Healey tomorrow night, Anna Meredith – whose poster in the corner of the room kept on catching Rozi Plain’s gaze – on Friday, and then finally, Rowan, Rory & the Nature Kids, and Frank Lloyd Wleft on Saturday night.
Photos: Simon Godley
More photos of Rozi Plain at The Crescent.
And some more photos of Mayshe-Mayshe at The Crescent