Tea & Gentle Acrimony With Hot Brew

This week saw Hot Brew take to the stage at The Paradise Bar in London.  TVO correspondent BabyOnFire was on hand to witness this legendary reunion, ahead of two further shows this month – at The Albany, Great Portland Street on May 19th and The Fix, Camden Head on May 21st.  This, then, is her exclusive report from the scene.

© Jimmy Crippen

© Jimmy Crippen

I felt extremely honourned to be able to see a rare performance from the two legends of the underground folk scene at the Paradise Bar in Kensal Green this week.  This was the first time Hot Brew had performed together in ten years, and after being separated for eight of those, awkwardness threatened to engulf the venue, especially as Oona and Crispin Wheatflake expressed issues with one-another right from the offset.

They soldiered through however, via their spiritual beliefs, which they were quick to share with us.  After, that is, Oona finished her tea, before being kind enough to offer refreshment to the audience: even giving away her teabag necklace to a spectator in the front row!  Those familiar with Jackal Films short documentary on the duo, Roots, will know that to them, the root vegetable is sacred.  And whilst audience participation can often feel unneeded and in a pub atmosphere is often unsuccessful – we were all encouraged nevertheless to join in with the chant: ‘The root, the shoot, assume the fruit’ – whilst Una grated Crispin’s root live on stage (No metaphors used there!).

© Jimmy Crippen

© Jimmy Crippen

Oona and Crispin’s aim, it seems, is to encourage their audience to ‘find’ themselves as they have.  Over the course of the night we learnt that they have a child named Globe – genderless of course, to avoid discrimination.  Unfortunately, in between their spirtual melodies they had the  odd little tiff.  Oona is now looking into the future, and admitted that during some sort of spiritual awakening (which Crispin described more of a breakdown) that she feels he is still living in the past.  In song format, of course, we learnt that Oona has found new love, and as hard as this was for Crispin to deal with, he really didn’t need to have to perform a song about how his former partner’s new man was a better lover than he.

We at The Velvet Onion would fear for their continued existence as a functioning musical duo, were it not for their spiritual beliefs – and delicious tea-based puns – keeping the pair together.  Their songs were sweet, melodic and even kind on the ears [not to mention hilarious!], and the end result is a flawless and clever act.  We sincerely hope the pair can patch up their differences for long enough to play their other dates later this month.  See them whilst you can!

In reality of course, Hot Brew are none other than Alice Lowe and Antony Elvin, and the Paradise Bar gig was their first live performance as the characters seen in Jackal Films excellent short film Roots.

They were the penulitimate act of the night, with Dan Skinner as Angelos Epethemiou (Shooting Stars) headling an excellent bill, and they recieved such an outstanding reaction from the crowd that perhaps Angelos may have seen them as a tough act to follow!  All in all, it was a genuinely fun night in a cosy, intimate venue, and I would encourage all of you to see Hot Brew at the earliest opportunity!

As stated above, the duo perform two further shows this month – at The Albany, Great Portland Street on May 19th and The Fix, Camden Head on May 21st.  If there are any further developments in the world of Hot Brew, we will keep you peeled.

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