Cindy Wilson – Under The Bridge, London – 23.02.18

After four decades of touring the world as part of Athens, Georgia party band The B-52s, Cindy Wilson is heading out on her first ever solo jaunt, kicking off her European tour at Under The Bridge. (If you haven’t been, it’s a super cool part sports bar, part high-tech yet intimate venue beneath Stamford Bridge, which football-types might know as Chelsea’s “home ground”.)

Cindy’s album, Change, is just that. An entirely different sound to the raucousness of The B-52s’ discography, the collection is a serene, dreamy take on electronic pop, sounding not unlike what might have happened if Bowie had written something for Debbie Harry to sing and Goldfrapp to produce. On record, her vocals float; a sweet juxtaposition to the deliciously harsh harmonies her and Kate Pierson would create, however in a live setting some of that gusto reappears.

Entering the stage in cat ears, shades, and a feather boa, it’s clear that Cindy has lost none of the stage presence that made The B-52s such a striking act, even with her sky-high beehive traded for a much closer shave. After a few minutes of teasing with her theremin (one of those synths played by waving your hands around the aerial, you may have seen an actual cat doing it on the internet), the band kick into the set.

Unlike the more mellow sound present throughout Change, there’s added energy this evening, as shown with the no-funks-given guitar of No One Can Tell You, and the echoed, distorted vocals and squeals during the title track. With Cindy seemingly controlling these effects, it appears that while she’s billed as “the voice of The B-52s” on posters, she’s the mind of this entire project. But that doesn’t necessarily make her the spokesperson. Cindy doesn’t address the audience until she thanks the crowd at the end of show; instead, this is very much a performance in the avant garde sense, with her music, her movement and only her creativity doing the talking for the first time in four decades.

Whereas a B-52s’ gig was often an inclusive evening, with the wild crowd invited to dance this mess around and party out of bound’s at the love shack where we can all get together, Cindy Wilson live is much more of a spectator sport. We hear about Things I’d Like To Say, and become mystified by the Mystic she becomes. There are nods to her band’s new wave output, but ironically these are on her covers of Oh-OK’s Brother and Junior Senior’s Take My Time.

Anyone expecting “the voice of The B-52s” to deliver a one woman version of said band may be disappointed, but those searching for one aspect of that collective’s essence – celebrating the experimental and the electronic influences of her career to date, and still sounding relevant – rejoice. Here’s hoping this more chilled-out change continues alongside the ongoing party of The B-52s.

Cindy’s tour continues around the UK and Europe. Grab your tickets!

Check out our photoshoot and podcast interview with Cindy on Shoot First Talk Later

Cover photo © Robert Gershinson 2018

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