Review – Laura Bean live at the Bassy – indieberlin goes a little country

There’s something about the Bassy Club that makes it like stepping into a film set. I’m always highly impressed by people who manage to not only dress up to look the part but who look like they live it. Bassy has an air of utter authenticity about it, as if you’d truly stepped into…hm. What? Someone’s weird version of a downtown losers’ bar where everyone knows they’re damned and has decided to look damned good when the devil finally gets there, and while we’re waiting we may as well have some fun…and where do they find that music?


DJ Trixi Trainwreck aka Trinity Sarratt finds tunes to put under the needle that sound like a crying lost soul has spent a thousand years perfecting the soundtrack to his own lonely demise, which must surely have been being shot by a lover with a sixgun loaded mistakenly with real bullets, down by the train tracks in the sullen heat while somewhere a whistle blows and she retouches her lipstick before wiping the blood from the red fake leather shoes that her mama bought her in the only shoe store in town before it closed down, and that was before the tornadoes came and took the mule and the whole damn stable with it.

OK. I digress. Obviously.

We’re here to talk about Laura Bean.

Laura Bean is a born entertainer.

In and out of all the clubs in Berlin where you might stop in to hear some live music, it’s unfortunately rare to find performers in this town who have grasped the idea that if they’re on a stage in front of a bunch of people who have probably paid to see them, who have chosen this particular performer over all the multitude of other possibilities for a night’s live entertainment (there’s that word again!), that they need to be, well, entertaining. There’s still so many performers who are so slotted into the groove of their own ego trip that they forget that beholding their art alone (- behold! -) might unfortunately not be quite riveting enough to hold a jaded and spoilt audience’s attention for an hour or two.

Yes, since you ask, I could go on. And in fact I was just about to. But – lucky you! – I’ve just remembered that I’m meant to be writing about Laura Bean, and not rabbiting on about another of my pet subjects to a bunch of people, jaded by online music blogs and simply spoiled for choice, who could just ping off and go and read something somewhere else that would be, you know, snappy, to the point, informative…all that stuff.

Yeah. So. Where was I?

Laura Bean is a real performer.

If you go for the I’m-a-girl-from-Kentucky shtick or not (and it must be said that roughly everybody without exception in Bassy does – although it’s a bit playing-to-the-home-crowd in that respect), Laura Bean takes to the stage dressed to the nines, flame red hair in a rockabilly swirl that must have taken hours of preparation by itself, goes to the front of the stage, and stays there, both literally and metaphorically, throughout the set.

Between songs she works up an easy rapport with the audience and by the third song in has them eating out of her hand. And the thing with Laura Bean is that she’s worldly wise enough to make her Kentucky girl thang both ironic and authentic at the same time (favourite in-between-song comment: “I’m so happy to be in a place where other people can get as excited about fried chicken as I can”).

But she is a girl from Kentucky, and maybe that’s why she can convince someone as not-really-sure about country as myself.

She plays the first few songs solo and with guitar and they’re nice, but things really take off when she invites first one and then two seriously good guitarists, Nico Rotter and Bene Gramm, who get the groove really going – mixing in some clever jazz shapes with the country stuff in a way that surprisingly works really well – and this leaves Laura free to concentrate on her singing, and this is when she really takes off.

I’ve only seen Laura before playing guitar and singing, and she was good doing that, but I was very impressed when she put the guitar down and sung – and of course it didn’t hinder her working the crowd either.

Regarding the songs I’m probably the wrong person to write about country. Country music’s songs generally take the obvious choices to me, and that’s the style. It’s a stylised music at this point – at least here in the heart of 21st Century Germany, and here at Bassy it’s a stylised scene too.

Laura Bean’s songs are playful and rompy and they do the job – they tell a story, they jump from jokey to emotional and back again (sometimes in the space of a verse), and they keep the crowd listening. Laura’s going to go far, and she knows it. She’s become a real professional through these years of combining street music with gigs supporting Boss Hoss and the like while touring Germany with her previous all-girl-country group. Now she’s solo (with new backing band The Spanish Inquisition) she’s become professional and while doing so hasn’t lost her personability or her down-to-earthedness.

What can I say? Laura Bean is a real performer in a town peppered with too many fakes.

…Oh yeah, and I was unfortunately torn away by personal matters before I could stay to see the second set with the full band. Damn!

Review by Noel Maurice
Noel Maurice is a musician and songwriter, you can find him here:
Or in a bar.


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