Live Review: Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes, Dune, Forest Of Eyes

23 July 2013 | 4:11 pm | Guido Farnell

Browne and company have turned a dreary, cold Friday evening into a sizzling hot and sweaty one. The crowd disappear into the night with smiles on faces, feeling energised.

Cold, wet punters make a quick dash inside Corner Hotel to get away from the tempest-tossed weather and head to the bar for a comforting drink. Forest Of Eyes warm the crowd with instrumental rock'n'roll which, in tonight's context, has the bright and sunny feel of surf rock that eventually spaces out into experimental abstraction. Underneath the band's tunes there is a massively insistent beat, which isn't quite funky enough to be Afrobeat or metronomic enough to be kosmische. Nonetheless, it dominates the mix and asks punters to get down. Reportedly the brainchild of Tommy Spender, that band remind the audience that they have no Facebook or Twitter accounts and no merch to flog. There may not be much to interact with for now, but this is definitely a space to watch.

If you have been wondering what ever happened to Jade MacRae, then tonight Dune provide all the answers. MacRae has teamed with Gypsy & The Cat's drummer and bass player to form a funky, three-piece outfit that is headed up by MacRae (on vox and synths). Leaving behind the urban music she released previously, MacRae has reinvented herself as an '80s disco diva. Dune have distilled everything that went pop in the '80s and captured the essence of this era via irresistibly catchy tunes that reference everything from Bowie circa Lets Dance to Icehouse and Kim Wilde. Even MacRae's hair has a Crimes Of Passion look about it and she definitely brings Pat Benatar to mind when she stalks the stage with aggressive moves in an off-the-shoulder top and jeans so tight that you'd swear she were sewn into them. Totally lost in the moment when singing, MacRae builds up quite a sweat. When her pipes open up and she hits those big notes, to spellbinding effect, the crowd simply go crazy. It's not hard to imagine that these tunes will soon be bouncing up and down the charts.

Clairy Browne's reportedly been suffering from vocal strain recently, but thankfully she has fully recovered and is ready to growl for us tonight. In such an impossibly short period of time, Clairy Browne and her totally Bangin' Rackettes have won many hearts and tonight sell out Corner Hotel with ease. Browne is aided by her five-piece band and three sassy backing singers, and they deliver an amazing rock and soul revue that shifts from R&B numbers that have plenty of bounce through to soulful torch songs that showcase the depth and power of Browne's voice. Browne takes plenty of inspiration from the '60s – and divas such as Tina Turner, Etta James and Betty Harris – to take her place among the latest crop of neo-soul artists. Replacing the innocence of yesteryear is a tough and gritty attitude that allows Browne to sing about picking your underwear up off the floor after a one-night stand to take the Walk Of Shame. The tightly choreographed show is a blur of tassels and sequins that finds Browne striking some classic diva-esque poses.

A jazzy version of Salt 'N' Pepa's Whatta Man bumps and grinds to crowd-pleasing effect until Darcy McNulty deals an epic baritone sax solo that blows everyone's mind. The new single Good Problems simply drills itself into your head and ensures that you will be humming it to yourself for days. Browne and company have turned a dreary, cold Friday evening into a sizzling hot and sweaty one. The crowd disappear into the night with smiles on faces, feeling energised.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter