Flowers are not only part and parcel of music lyrics, but also the pretty packaging on top. So it’s brave for Becc Sanderson, aka Passionflower, to organise her song material in such a floral arrangement. Featuring covers from Radiohead, The Magnetic Fields and Elvis Costello, in addition to her own compositions, she manages to bring a stylish set to the Bongo Rooms, but one that doesn’t always capitalise on its promises.
The stage is casually adorned with a sofa, which Sanderson occasionally reclines upon. She is very much a physical performer: arms wide, she often wears a dazzling smile to emphasise a particular lyric. Her backing accompanists work very well together and form a tight, cohesive unit. However, there is often a feeling that they are working against, rather than with, each other. On the Dave Grohl song ‘Marigold’, squalling guitar often feels as though it overshadows the sometimes understated lyrics. The cover of Radiohead’s ‘Lotus Flower’ flits in and out of focus. The backing here often threatens to swallow the singing entirely. In addition, Sanderson sometimes overextends herself. In particular, her cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Trampled Rose’ didn’t capture the wicked edge necessary for such a song.
However, Sanderson has an excellent voice, capable of hitting the high and long notes without quavering or pause. On her own songs, especially the ‘Passiflora Incarnata’ and the ‘The Orchid’s Lament’, a mixture of playfulness and talent had the audience applauding long after she had finished. And when it finally clicks with her backing instrumentalist, Sanderson can put on a show just as good as anyone else. It might be slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the Fringe, but it’s still a show worth checking out.