Friday night at the Grace Darling sees a slithering of people making their way up the moodily lit stairway and into Ainslie Wills's single launch. The room was packed with a crowd that were surprisingly boisterous for a sombre folk singer like Wills. As people shimmered around the room drunkenly, the show looked set to begin.
Gold curtains shone behind the silhouette of a very still Wills, who quickly commanded the room with her simplicity and poise. She was assured without being a spectacle. This is for good reason as her vocals are accomplished, her song structure impassioned and her band are a skilled blanket of support.
The band begun with a slow rise focused on the vocal abilities of their leading lady. Soon they all kicked in to a sound which was a little more electric than folk but a little more subdued than rock. The songs were often time layered female harmonies, keyboard chords and quirky drum beats that set the pace. Other times the songs were slower and more focused on the guitar playing and dreamy lyrics.
Being a lover of strong emotive female vocalists, from the school of Fiona Apple or Florence Welch, I was at ease in that formula. And yet, even with all of the fundamental aspects apparent, something very small and very difficult to place, was amiss for me. Regrettably, as much as I dig seeing a lady shred a guitar, I felt that Wills rocked more when she focused on movement and vocals.
Or perhaps it may have been the drunken crowd of what seemed to be a knit-work of friends and supporters. Now do not get me wrong, that family atmosphere can be endearing, but by the third drunken slurring of 'Happy Birthday' to a 'Natalie' or 'Nicole' or 'Nidjfidnfdj', I was a little bored with it. I felt that Wills indulged the crowd a little too much, and therefore lost her presence in the room. And her presence deserved to be abided by.
That said, the sound quality was polished and the setting was the perfect mirror for Wills's vibe- mysterious yet intimate. I particularly enjoyed it when the band came together for a sound that was a little livelier, the perfect example of which was the debut single itself, 'Stop Pulling the String' or a song like 'Fighting Kind'. It was clear to see that the band excelled at the kind of song which had attitude combined with that neo-bop bounce. They even sounded louder when they played in that format.
I hoped that they would end on the high note of 'Stop Pulling the String' but they band decided to satisfy the crowds demands for more. And although a dark Radiohead cover was appreciated, I tend to think that the audience does not always know what is best. Especially after the fifth beer.
I know I sound a little dubious, I do look forward to seeing Ainslie Wills again, because although the picture hung slightly askew to my eyes, it was stunning all the same.