You are Wolf, National Portrait Gallery

I went to see You are Wolf on Friday night at of all places the National Portrait Gallery in London. It was part of their Late Shift series where the gallery stays open till 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays and there are a series of talks, workshops, and gigs taking place. Alternatively you can just look at the pictures or relax with an (expensive) drink in the Foyer bar!

Curiously it’s not the first time I’ve been to a gig in an art gallery, many years ago I went to see a female jazz group called (if I recall correctly) Jazzawaki at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. I don’t think an art gallery is a great venue for a gig, it’s quite a sterile environment, you can’t lean against the walls and there are lots of concerned looking attendants keeping an eye on you in case you look like you might be about to damage (or steal) one of the pictures.

I had been, however, wanting to see You are Wolf for quite a while, ever since I heard Sednastory and Shamansong from the 6 track ep Hunting Little Songs on Late Junction on Radio 3.  It’s hard to describe the music but it probably fits somewhere around the folk genre. Having said that the night did include songs by Dolly Parton, Cole Porter and Hank Williams alongside traditional folk and self penned songs.

You are Wolf is ostensibly Kerry Andrew although she was joined at the NPG on two songs by her husband Andrew Furlow who played bass – although I thought the instrument was way too loud in the mix. As you entered the room you would have noticed a small collection of items around a chair – a microphone, a melodica, a glockenspiel, assorted cutlery and a wine glass! These are all used by Kerry to build up the instrumental backing for her songs alongside the two other vital ingredients – her voice and a loop station.

I found the whole thing quite mesmerizing to watch as she built up layer upon layer of sound to create these wonderful soundscapes that backed her vocals, although the vocals would also get looped into the mix as well and she harmonised with herself (the stand out example being Down to the River to Pray).

The audience seemed to enjoy it, there were people of  all ages and the room was quite full. The venue had put out a load of stools and they were all taken so people either stood at the back or sat on the floor at the front. It was quite an eclectic crowd too including apparently Kerry’s Dad, who was seeing her perform as You are Wolf for the first time, and one girl in the front row sat drawing throughout the show. Sadly though it was all too soon over (the NPG obviously has a strange understanding of the word late as it was all done and dusted by 7:30pm)

I would highly recommend checking out You are Wolf – you can hear the Hunting Little Songs Ep by visiting her Soundcloud page and you can buy it from her website. I was pleased to see that part of the show at the NPG was filmed and you can watch her singing the Cole Porter Song Miss Otis Regrets below: