Photography: Jessica Greenall / @jessrg1995

Girl Ray

Liverpool Music Week: DIY Breaking Out @ EBGBS 30/10/17

Tonight is GIRL RAY’s first headline show outside London and, predictably enough, it’s full to capacity. It’s quite a step up from the patchy, dawdling crowd when they supported Slow Club at The Magnet 12 months back. Yet things have progressed smoothly for the former school friends, together as a band for mere months before opening for Meilyr Jones in London and being snapped up sharpish by his label Moshi Moshi as a result. But it’s not been a sudden recognition for the 6Music favourites, more an inevitable clicking into place that the three-piece – Poppy Hankin, Sophie Moss and Iris McConnell, plus professional actor Mick O’Malley on keys and percussion – combined are really something quite special.

Special in part because Girl Ray are a band so very easy to like. Dark storytelling is concealed in deceptively pretty tunes, ones that lure us into a false sense of cheery security. It’s the slightly off-kilter, faintly mocking vocals that manage to stay on the right side of cool that stop us falling for that little trick this evening.

The three women excel at, not blood harmonies exactly, but, certainly, ‘best friends’ ones. On Don’t Go Back At Ten, Hankin and Moss perform a shaky, vaguely circular Shadows’ walk as a nod to the choreographed moves in the accompanying video. More bands should do this. It desperately needs to be a thing. Hankin’s self-deprecating predictions that the show will be like a covers band version of Girl Ray are wide of the mark; on the Earl Grey album it’s the long, epic surprise of Earl Grey (Stuck In A Groove) which provides the real intrigue, a hint maybe at the direction the band may choose to go in next. Live, Stuck In The Groove shines, with added help and assistance from The Orielles’ Sidonie on cowbells.

Hankin’s steady vocal delivery is the focal point throughout the set – on stage, the Nico comparison makes more sense – and though their delivery is loose in parts, to everyone present, all these things combined only add to Girl Ray’s considerable charm.

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