On previous visits to the the UK Rainbow Girls came to party with us, and we all fell in love with them time and time again with each visit. After a two year absence they are back once again, to wake us up and bring us all together. Of course, we are still falling in love with them as much as ever.
This time they have things they want to talk about and the set and stage format is quite different. The 2017 touring alt-folk Rainbows have no drums, accordion, keys or bass (though they have not been permanently banished), their songs and messages address all of their concerns about these strange and troubled times but they are far from broken or depressed. In much the same way that Hurray for the Riff Raff, and Courtney Marie Andrews is doing (my last visit to London for a gig, earlier this month) they too have a lot on their minds and have plenty to express which is coming out in a wealth of new material. One of the many things I love about Rainbow Girls is their energy and indefatigable postive outlook and faith in the human spirit – they come right out and say it between songs, that we need to connect, find the love that unites us, stay together and of course this is the way. Embracing our similarities rather than being divided by perceived differences that certain powers try to encourage in their power games. There’s an awakening happening and the Rainbow Girls are some of those shining a light on the path ahead. Their social commentary songs are wonderfully well done, beautiful to listen to, subtle and with thought-provoking lyrics; and despite some of the subjects tackled the atmosphere is never downbeat. Quite the opposite in fact, the way they express and perform they always leave me feeling at the end of a gig or playing of a recording not only uplifted but also positive and energised with their attitude of connecting with fellow humans. You see, so much of what the Rainbow Girls are about is harmony, the coming together of the different parts making a whole that is something beautiful and harmonious, which is how the world could be. As for their actual harmonies … they are the tightest, sweetest and most harmonious I have ever heard at a gig, it is something to behold. Their energy draws you in. As people they are just the best and their spirit cannot be broken. There is something energising and inspiring simply about being in their company and listening to them. Plenty of fun and joining in happened during the set too – a call and response singalong for Stephanie Says, some audience harmonies for Can We Keep This Love Alive, and their glorious cover of the Carole King composition, One Fine Day, which was a huge hit for The Chiffons.
At the lovely Green Note the set differed a bit from the Norwich gig but still showcasing songs from the amazing new album American Dream though this gig was split into two 45 minute sets with a handful of new numbers. They are obviously on a creative roll at the moment as these new ones are as strong as anything else in the set. Vanessa’s vocal lead on the song about an African-American individual in the segregation-era wanting to drink from (and bravely doing so) the “Whites Only” water fountain only to discover that it is just the same water is hugely poignant and beautifully written. Goosebumps moment and one of the set highlights. The album itself has a wholeness to it with all the songs sitting comfortably together with a running theme and mood to the it without ever feeling samey. The “three-headed dog” is obviously proud of the new “baby” and well they should be. It is superb.
Their performances are just an absolute joy with plenty of smiles, laughs and singalongs too, as well as some RGs stomps and finger-clicks. Caitlin’s booted stomps sounding particularly impressive on the wooden pallet stage. It’s a beautiful way to experience their music, in such a setting with the girls gatherered around a single ‘Ear Trumpet’ condensor microphone, switching guitars and lead vocals, always harmonising and always performing just wonderfully. They have music coursing through their veins, they live and breathe it. Imagine a trio of Yve Mary Bs!
They are so hardworking too … under normal circumstances they would probably carry on playing for as long as they were allowed but at the end of their two sets here they packed away, met and hung out with the crowd for a while, ahead of a two-hour drive for just two hours kip before a 6:30am check-in at Stansted and a quick trip to Cork for a micro-break, kissing the Blarney Stone, sampling the pub music and doubtless another gig or two on their couple of days off on cheapo RyanAir tickets. I have a feeling that Rainbow Girls and Ireland is another love affair waiting to happen, they sure will be a good match. The Irish will obviously adore them, just as everyone who sees them always does. I love them as people and as one of my favourite bands.
It was good to hang out beforehand for a few hours in Camden, living here must feel like being in a permanent festival and I found the vibe in the places I ambled around really friendly and relaxed. On the windowfront of the Green Note itself I noted not only the Rainbow Girls poster but also posters for forthcoming gigs by Norwich gems Jess Morgan (with Dan Whitehouse), plus Clark & Zuppardi … not forgetting that The Vagaband also played here last week too. Another artist featured was John Craigie, a great friend of the Rainbow Girls and with a date on the same tour at Norwich Guildhall for Grapevine in October.
In my second London “away-day” gig of September (after the excellent Courtney Marie Andrews at Bush Hall) I enjoyed my afternoon in Camden, feeling the presence of Amy Winehouse almost everywhere I went ahead of the Rainbow Girls gig at the charming Green Note … small, dark and candlelit, relaxed, refreshingly friendly and intimate … I’d call it Camden’s Bicycle Shop.
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