Maz Totterdell || The Bull & Gate, Kentish Town, London || 6th June 2012
It’s been a few years since I’ve spent a Wednesday night in Kentish Town. Big Sair and I zoomed down the M40 under the power and panache of the Dooper and arrived at the Bull and Gate just in good time.
I first heard Maz Totterdell on Steve Lamacq several months ago. I like my regular weekday dates with Lamo; I cook, dance a bit and generally end up being late for the next bit of life while he chats and plays me a great selection of tunes, old and new. As with all friends (even ones that live in your radio), he’s made some great recommendations.
Maz Totterdell is 15 years old. She really is young enough to be my daughter: quelle horreur! A girl with the look of Robert Smith’s love child playing self-penned pop/folk songs with the calm self-assurance of someone so much older.
As the star attraction, she took the unusual step of playing a set of 45 minutes at 8pm and then again at 10.15pm. Sandwiched in between were the supporting friends of Nadine Shah and Veil Cassini.
Nadine Shah, one girl and her keyboard, or sometimes guitar: I searched the vestiges of my mental back catalogue to give a commendable vocal metaphor. The best I can cross-match is Maria Callas meets Cat Power (if anyone else has tuned in to my thought patterns, please let me know, I think we should be friends). A short set of original songs lamenting some heartless bastard. (Aren’t they all, Nadine?) I wouldn’t mind seeing a fuller set with a bit more material. Promising.
Big Sair did not fair so well with Veil Cassini. Lasted half a song, complained of bleeding ears and went to the bar. Lightweight, honestly… They had indeed embraced the back catalogue of the Pixies and Sonic Youth, with the sweat to prove it. My favourite was the penultimate tune that reminded me of a Silversun Pickups’ track from a few years back.
And so back to Maz. Her first set included half of her impressive debut album, Sweep: Kaleidoscope, Blushing Bride, Heart in My Pocket, and my original Maz hook, Counting My Fingers. Throw in a few extras and a supporting three piece band, of percussion, bass and violin and you’ve got all you need to get Big Sair smiling again.
Maz is quite mesmerising to watch and walks the very fine line of quiet self-confidence without ever tipping into precocious teenager-angst territory. And she manages to do this because she is very, very good, sings beautifully without strain and takes genuine joy in performing live. There’s a little bit of a Kate Nash twang at times in songs like Lazy Day but her voice is so much purer, stronger and well, to be honest, better.
Her second set featured more covers, and covers that were good choices – Ever Fallen in Love, The Boy With the Thorn in His Side, Back to Black, and Girl With One Eye – plus the rest of the album.
Loved it: proper five star girl power. A new Mazzy shaped star: I say one to watch.
Watch her perform Counting My Fingers for BBC Introducing.