Fittingly enough it feels like an early Christmas eve for Tor Maries aka Billy Nomates, at this opening gig of a UK tour to promote the upcoming second album “CACTI”. She’s on the verge of something big, bathed in illuminations and very present.
And throughout this packed gig in the stripped back warehouse environs of the Village Underground in Shoreditch – the BLS – Big London Show as she herself pronounced during some backing track shenanigans, Billy Nomates was aptly enough dancing like no one was watching (even though 700 were), completely rapt in the moment, in a death-defying disco of her own self-prophecy.
I swear I was standing among some of the extras from her recent video “spite” though I hadn’t realised at the time, and there was a definite chin-stroking Shoreditch element to this gig (says me as a meeja type) so I’m sure Tor will relish the chance to get out there on the road and bathe excitable masses in her all-encompassing world view of tack-sharp world observation wryness and abrasive lyrical takedowns tempered by moments of self-reflective semi-balladry.
New songs like “spite” and “Balance Is Gone” went down a storm and the latter was performed with the same Tazmanian devilish quality as BNM’s magnetic ferocity on the recent Later With Jools Holland appearance.
The relatively old tunes from the self-titled debut and “Emergency Telephone” EP nearly turn the exposed brick walls of the Village Underground to rubble, delivered with acerbic vitriol and complete commitment, with “No” in particular a roaring/raw 20s punk rock anthem.
With no backing band, and just the Sleaford Mods style backing tracks, Tor is occasionally singing along to her own voice such is the multi layering of these clever arrangements, but her voice in the room is a housequake of power, she can not only hold a tune, she can hold a whole room in the palm of her hand, with nary a breath between each onslaught, for an entire non stop hour. It’s no mean feat. It’s not surprising there’s not much in-between chat, but it’s unnecessary as Billy Nomates personality is writ large in her keen lyrics. She literally drops the mic at the seeming end of the set, and it’s 100% justified. Except it’s not quite yer lot, there’s no pretension like a slink off and return to adoration encore, she’s straight into one final it feels bonus track, the as it turns out prophetic “Call In Sick” written pre-Covid and yet presciently darkly funny and unforgettable.
When I returned to work after a TV production I was working on was shut down in 2020, filmed at a restaurant in Shoreditch, “Call In Sick” and the first BNM album really soundtracked my footsteps back through a deserted city to work after all that lockdown uncertainty, so it seemed fitting that I’d end the night here, nearly two years later in the same hood, watching Billy Nomates IRL sing that same anti-heroic rallying call.
And yet for Billy Nomates, this is just the start.
“CACTI” is available to pre-order now (Invada Records) and fully out out on 13th January.
Check out the Bandcamp link below…
Gig Rating: Billy New Mates
check out the rest of the UK tourdates here including a new London one
THANKS TO JOHN ESPLEN (WIPE OUT MUSIC PUBLISHING)