In a slight departure from our usual template for this series, our latest new music pick are, on the face of it, a comedy outfit. Comedy and music should only mix under very specific, controlled circumstances, but on the rare occasions such a fusion doesn’t destroy the entire laboratory and kill everyone involved it can sometimes result in such a splendid concoction as Four Femmes on the Thames.
Four Femmes are a quartet of ladies who do a remarkable line in jazz, swing and cabaret-style vocal numbers, dolled up in the very finest 1940s fashion. Katy Baker, Abbey Mordue, Grace Rowe and Emma Drysdale write and sing eyebrow-raising songs on risque subjects, and happily for all of us they take a particular interest in London (they themselves are from all over the capital, from Walthamstow to Forest Hill, Bounds Green to Clapham). They’re joined in their efforts by Adam Story on bass and Gavin Whitworth on the piano.
The song that deserves to catapult them to stardom is The Shard, a hilarious tale of an unexpected birthday surprise. We would be remiss if we didn’t say the words ‘Oxo Tower’ at this point. The video, and the facial expressions of the foursome throughout, is a perfect blend of mirth and discomfort — apt, given the subject matter. “We didn’t see an opera, we didn’t see The Bard / No before I even knew it, I’d been taken up The Shard.”
If they couldn’t sing it wouldn’t work, but thankfully Four Femmes don’t have a bum note between them.
We’re told the video was retweeted by the King of Twitter a while ago, yet although we’ve been led to believe anything Mr Fry has his hands on is immediately successful on a huge international scale given the breadth of his reach, The Shard has only been viewed by a few thousand people so far. That’s frankly scandalous, so please help set this injustice right by watching yourself and sending to everyone you know.
The group has played in various parts of town over the last couple of years and next hit a London stage at the Cirque du Cabaret event at the Southbank’s London Wonderground venue on 8 August. They are currently writing new songs about London and life in the city and they’ll no doubt be unveiling a few of those during their next few shows.
Four Femmes have already been seen on the front cover of The Times, though that was for their costumes at a racecourse last year rather than for an imminent headline slot at Glastonbury or The O2. It’s time that was rectified, as Four Femmes on the Thames deserve to prove to a bigger audience that comedy and music really can combine, even if it does leave you with a bit of a limp.