Simon Says is a student-curated monthly event at the Stretch, which has built a reputation throughout Goldsmiths for showcasing a broad range of talent from those on the BMus Popular Music course. The nights are always well put-together and with the final event of this year, This year, Simon Says kicks off their Freshers’ Special with a particularly exciting line-up featuring IIRIS, Nocturne, Bubbles and more.
First up is Jack Haining; a singer-songwriter from Leeds, Jack released his acoustic/electronic EP ‘In A Conjured Land’ last year. Jack’s flowing, melodic guitar and smooth vocals in this mellow acoustic set is pretty lovely stuff, and a good start to the gig.
Then, another singer-songwriter, Immy Williams. Immy is already well known in her hometown of Newcastle and is clearly an experienced performer, as her set is beautifully effortless. Her voice is like liquid gold over her resonant piano chords, and I’m sure I can’t have been the only one who went home with one of her melodies stuck in my head.
Following Immy is electronic act Elstir, the project of Swiss performer Gaspar Narby with help from Tancrede Rouff. Performing new material, Elstir’s act is an interesting blend; Rouff’s almost mini-malist piano repetitions as a backdrop to Narby’s slick, percussive sounds, and the layering of samples is a fascinating ambient-electronic display.
Next up is Hol, performing material from his upcoming project ‘The Bulb Bursts’. He refers to it as a visual EP, and it’s clear to see how his music slots into this medium – Hol’s songs often ignore con-ventional pop structure in favour of ‘passages’, and this grouped with his gorgeously emotive voice and picturesque lyrics, create an often scenic sense of narrative to his music.
And then a stark change in tone, as Bubbles enters hand-in-hand with her ‘backing singer’ – a blow-up alien affectionately named Paul. Bubbles’ post-ironic hyper-pop music, with lyrics about social media and MDMA, is accentuated in performance by her exuberance onstage, complete with cheerleader-style costume and cutesy choreography. The end result is extraordinarily enter-taining, and Bubbles’ unwavering commitment to her brand is a particular highlight of the evening.
The penultimate act need no introduction; Nocturne have just returned from playing the Big Top at Bestival this year, a performance that was streamed by Red Bull TV. Their set leaves no questions as to why; the group are brilliantly polished and their dense-textured sound, topped by front woman Catrin Vincent’s soaring vocals, makes a jaw-dropping impact. Nocturne turns the atmosphere of the Stretch into something cosmic and manages to get the entire crowd on their feet.
And finally is the night’s headliner, IIRIS. Another act that needs no introduction, IIRIS has already established success in her motherland Estonia since releasing her debut album The Magic Gift Box under EMI in 2012. IIRIS is, unsurprisingly, an exceptional performer; every movement she makes on stage feels theatrical and pronounced, and perfectly accompanies her intriguingly ex-pressive vocal performance. The amount of times I hear audience members say “She reminds me of Björk/Kate Bush/Florence” gets boring, but the comparisons are unavoidable; she is reminiscent of these artists – in style, sure, but mostly in merit as a performer.
All in all, a fantastic evening of music from all the acts – and if it’s in any way a pre-cursor as to what’s to come for the rest of the year at Simon Says, then it’s looking good.