The Organ may have been playing second fiddle to The Wedding Present on this cold Tuesday night in Lincoln but as an attendee at this gig, there was no question that the Canadian act were first in my thoughts. Granted, The Wedding Present played a whole host of favourites, including Cinerama tracks and an arresting grunged-up version of 'Falling' from David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks'. Furthermore David Gedge is - and always be - an endearing and good-humoured frontman. Yet, for this music fan/amateur critic, gigs are always more exciting when something new and something special shows up. The Organ are special in many ways. From a relatively small body of work (one 30-minute album, a 15-minute EP/mini album and a few singles), The Organ convince thanks to Katie Sketch's morose but passionate delivery, Jenny Smyth's funereal Hammond Organ frills and Debora Cohen's spindly guitar figures. Their songs are short, dark but unafraid of melody or the popular market in general.
Live, they are able to take the experience to the next level; creating the visual performance to match the recorded material. The key is in the contrast between the band members. Sketch is a totally committed performer, clutching the microphone towards her as if it's the object of the affection described in her tragedy-tinged lyrics. Her eyes remain tightly shut almost throughout the half-hour show but the conviction is unquestionable. She is surrounded by a trio of would-be competitors in the Canadian stare-out championships. To Sketch's left stands the mysteriously named "Shmoo", who - as well as being Katie's sister - is now the full-time bassist after the previous incumbent, Ashley Webber, moved on to concentrate on other projects. Schmoo appears to be the epitome of youthful arrogance on stage; never willing to relent on her sneer. On Sketch's immediate right is Cohen whose eyes appear to glaze over the whole audience; it's difficult to remember her ever looking at her guitar but The Cure-style playing cannot be faulted. Then, in the corner, Smyth - the keeper of "The Organ" - guards her precious instrument with a doeful stare that is as disquieting as it is captivating. It's a clever balancing act between full-on intensity and impassiveness. In essence, the musicians are the protectors of the frontwoman's vulnerability; should anyone break her heart then it is they who will deliver the retribution. Meanwhile, in the background sits drummer Shelby Stocks but whilst she is denied the stage presence of the others, this drummer proves just as integral to The Organ's overall sound as any other member and is able to carry out her percussive duties with the minimum of fuss.
And that sound is certainly a powerful one; the group racing through their set with no sign of guitar solos, on-stage tomfoolery or over-emoting ever in evidence; just compact three-minute tracks delivered with style, passion and tuneful hooks. Particular praise should be reserved for the evening's version of 'Brother' which appeared to benefit from a punchier, more direct approach than the album version. Although aspects of their sound appear to reference the ever-popular "turn of the eighties" acts such as Blondie, The Cure, The Passions, The Raincoats etc., the sum of the parts makes them an original and exciting group of musicians; the fact they all happen to be women is a mere side issue in the wider context of events. They are a great outfit, pure and simple.
Given that most of the attendees at the gig were preparing themselves for some heavily-Anglicised indie-pop nostalgia it's fair to say that The Organ caught many of them by surprise but they certainly won a few fans this evening and one can only assume many more will follow as their seemingly never-ending tour continues.