Sisters are (still) doing it for themselves
Despite the fact there is a new series of Downtown Abbey on at 9pm, a good crowd has dragged themselves away from the TV and head out for Sunday night of musical entertainment at The Waterfront in Norwich.
This is a tour made in musical heaven, Tanya was a co-founding member of Throwing Muses way back in 1981 in Newport, Rhode Island and ever since their musical paths them have always kept close, perhaps not surprising as Kristin and Tanya are also half-sisters.
Tonight Tanya Donelly is country cool, a cowgirl with a Gibson SG, ably assisted by hubby on guitar (and drum thing), a cello, and a bass. She dips in and out of her recent (now extensive) ‘Swan Song’ series together with some fine old Belly tunes, played with a laid-back swagger of a band in love with performing and happy in their own skin. It feels like a ‘warm down’ more than a ‘warm up’ slot. The time flies and she is gone.. for now…
With suitable refreshment taken on board, enter Throwing Muses. Stage left, a bass guitar with five strings is hooked around Bernard Georges, still the new boy in the band with only 22 years under his belt. At the back Drummer David Narcizo has been banging the bins in the band since 1983, so it’s fair to say he’s got the hang of it by now. Stage right, Kristin Hersh is skinny and taught as a whippet, flexing her musical muscles both vocally and along the fretboard.
Throwing Muses were born when Kurt Cobain was learning chords to Aerosmith songs and there is still a caustic and visceral edge to their sound that age hasn’t mellowed. They’re certainly not going through the motions and they perform at least six tracks from the latest record ‘Purgatory / Paradise (their first proper one for ten years). There is no such thing as a typical Throwing Muses song; the song-writers handbook they bought was read and thrown out of the window years ago. Perhaps it’s their unconventionality that can render the music challenging to grasp initially, but with faithful ears, more rewarding down the line.
Tanya reappears to guest sing on a number of older TM tracks and the twin female vocals sound gorgeous adding another dimension to the mix. It’s almost a shame she can’t stick around all night. If there are any minor grumbles it’s only the lack of some potential crowd-pleasers from their back catalogue, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person hoping they would play ‘Counting Backwards’ at some point.
Ah well, if it’s nostalgia you want there is always Downtown Abbey. Tanya and Throwing Muses are still living and performing for the moment, let’s hope they keep doing just that.