Mi & L'au | Live Review

Plus One Magazine (UK) | Alex Lawson

Long live Mi and L'Au

January 9, 2006

There's a great MJ Hibbert song on his latest record which talks about what happens when no one turns up to gigs- the promoter excuses themselves, says they can't work out why the price, internet blogging and 50 fliers didn't work out - and its ace. And as MJ says just ignore it and dance along with the other bands and their three friends.

Which is what happened here. Altogether quite predictable as the still rising Fin/French combo Mi and L'Au are only two records and one Devendra Banhart link into something which shall hopefully blossom with wider recognition and also a fairly warm Friday night wasn't really gonna tempt in too many apart from the most contemplative. But we've all been to you, the barman and an old bloke in a scarf gigs.

But those who did witness it were treated to the funny support delight of Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe (the posh name completely contradicts her broad Northern accent) who, armed with a small harp, delivers a half hour of largely engaging soporific tunage. Full of quirky little comments and an amusing self-awareness its moments like this that really drag empathy out of the humble gig-goer and you realise what a big step sitting on stage on your own is. Always great with the harp and not too shabby elsewhere definitely investigate, she's easy to look up.

And so to the main event. Backed by Cambridge's Fuzzy Knights the startling looking duo begin their hour long set with about ten minutes of noodling - not the best way to engage a small crowd despite the beautiful violin which is less cat and more siren. And from this noodling springs, pretty suddenly, their most beautiful and attractive tune and the opener on their excellent record eponymous record, They Marry. Featuring Mi's soft and enchanting tones it questions the marital bond over an irresistible tune and sets a high standard for the rest of the album. Here it helps guide the set into something special, luckily avoiding their tendency often to wash over the listener with a precision in their musicianship which is easily visible even from the back of the room. To see a band who love their music is always a pleasure and the intense concentration of the band throughout the set, only stopping to thank their backing band in faltering English, help betray this feeling.

It may not have been the most spectacular gig, or even the most memorable but for that hour (and only an hour, stupid club nights cutting into gigs, I hate it) it was enchanting, heart-warming and fascinating. Long live Mi and L'Au, please return to the Social and next time we'll hope for better attendance.