Gemma and the Mil Men played at the Camden Rocks Festival on May 31st 2014, Rob Brennan was there to catch them live, here's what he had to say about their performance....
It’s a shame the organisers of Camden Rocks Festival had Gemma and the Mill Men on so early.
The band who only came together a month ago, dished up an early afternoon treat for the small crowd gathered in the Black Cap, getting straight into the swing of things with their opening story ‘My Idea of Fun’, told by singer Gemma who struck me as a far more 'real' version of Lily Allen.
Backed up by Thom Hammond on bass, Alex Sessions on cajon and lead guitarist Charlie Tindale, Gemma entertained with her singing, dancing and at times comedy routine throughout their one hour set.
The small audience didn’t appear to affect the delivery of a range of songs on everything from being educated at a French school in West London to a friend called Jenni Peters who disappeared.
Gemma and the Mill Men’s folk sound, influenced by Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen and Roots Manuva as well as playwrights Martin McDonagh, Dennis Kelly and Sarah Kane will certainly get your toes a tappin'.
As their set progressed, the crowd slowly began to build, it was the toe tap along with the nod of the head which was the common look in the venue which was so dark, the fact it wasn’t even 1pm did not show inside.
It wouldn’t be right to put Gemma and the Mill Men is a box and say, ‘that’s what they are’, the sound on any given day could have you up jumping around or chilling out on the sofa listening to the stories which Gemma delivers with a mixture of cheerfulness and brutal honesty.
When a band asks if there’s any youngsters in the room you know it’s about to get interesting and it did. The story about getting caught kissing boys in school was backed up with the chorus, ‘Mrs Rock, fuck you, Mrs Rock, fuck you, I really like your husband…”
To finish up, the last tune was about a girl who moved to London in the spring of 2012 and had their heart broken by a bloke called Steve, who she met on the Cali Road.
Another catchy chorus went with this one, ‘She’d only just met him but she knew it was right.’
I’d only just met Gemma and the Mill Men, but I knew it was right!
By Rob Brennan