It’s been a few months since Queen of dark pop, U.S. Girls, sold out the Soup Kitchen and put on a bloody good show. This time round, following the success of her album, In a Poem Unlimited, U.S. Girls (real name Meghan Remy) came to YES’s Pink Room to give us another taste of her unusual flavour of experimental pop. It was a nice touch to be in the Pink Room; the painted shade of candy floss pink on the walls suited an artist who has a strong female identity.
In character from start to end, Meghan was eerily unresponsive as soon as she stepped out on stage; so plainly dressed, styled and composed in fact I didn’t even realise she was who she was until halfway through the opening number. No gesture to the audience, no nod, eye contact, not even a smile. Awkward much? The eight-piece band took us straight into dark ‘n’ moody ‘Navy & Cream’; establishing how it’ll be more of a band performance than a solo show; her sax, bass player, backing singer, both guitarists, were all ultra-talented musicians.
Meghan finally got into the groove and showed some personality when disco-esque ‘Window Shades’ kicked in. The crowd loved the shift in song (a fan fave) and bopped along with Meghan as she repeatedly sang the haunting lyrics “what If I left it all up to you? I’m that foooooool”. Her voice is so sweet and fragile we could barely hear it sometimes. She had two backing singers, one being the keyboardist who annoyingly tried to out sing them both throughout the show. Calm down, it ain’t your show mate.
Each track was broken up with 10-second interludes. Some were random recorded voices that Meghan lip synced too, others were sections of dialogue from what sounded like a 1950’s British melodrama. It all strangely fitted in with her unusual and uncomfortable stage presence. She picked the best tracks from her latest album; ‘Velvet 4 Sale’ showed off her vocal range better, sounding like Kate Bush after a few Pinot Grigios. She seductively hit them high notes in the track without caution.
I got the feeling that the audience always wanted a bit more oomph from her. No matter how much whistling, hollering or cheers from the crowd, Meghan fell flat in charisma. It’s the only thing that lacked her becoming an alternative go-to female live performer. ‘M.A.H’ was a great, campy number that got the crowd dancing and one of the best responses of the night. Fighting her way into the crowd she sang over and over again the lyrics from ‘Time’ for what must have been about 15 minutes. The longest end to a show I’ve ever been to for sure. Border-lining on boring, the track ended just in time. Encore choice ‘Rage of Plastics’ was a classic example of U.S. Girls to end the night on, ending simply with the only word she uttered to her audience; “Goodnight”.
U.S. Girls performed at YES on Wednesday 21st November 2018. Words by Tom Frodsham.