Song Noir

John Wills, guitarist of Pumajaw, the musical pairing behind Song Noir, entered the room and crossed the stage, barely acknowledging the audience as he picked up his electric guitar and pressed a button on his laptop. A rattle of a rhythm, almost industrial sounding, juddered through the room as Pinkie Maclure, similarly silent and dressed illustriously in a velvet, funereal dress, entered and sauntered to the microphone. As the chilling chords of the electric guitar shook with acoustic perfection, Maclure raised her sultry eyes to the audience and began to sing.

Considering silence that had come before (replaced by an unsettling noir backdrop of samples both visual and aural), the effect of her voice could not be more potent. It possesses an echoic depth that draws the audience into introspection, and a rasp that jars the bones and relaxes the body in equal measure. As she reveals the extent of her vocal range, so too does she reveal her technical discipline. The voice that emerged betrayed all expectation, and continued only to affirm this sentiment as the show progressed.

Let us not do Wills an injustice, either. His work on the synthetic harmonies are crucial to the overall feel of the piece, even if some of the visuals feel a little contrived. His aptitude with guitar and keyboard was clear, and he is, figuratively and literally, in tune with every vocal inflection and every harmonic nuance of his counterpart.

The respect that the entire show exhibits for atmosphere distends simply the songs themselves. Everything about Song Noir is a tightly orchestrated performance. Maclure says only a handful of words, Wills even fewer as he maintains an almost Lurch-like demeanour, as they choose to let the songs speak for themselves. She submits to an almost narcotic state as the hour progresses, swaying and moving with a kind of hallucinogenic abandon. This was a state to which it was hard not to concede.

The show ended as it started. Maclure turned her back on the audience and left the room in silence. Wills put down his guitar and followed. Song Noir is the Blues, but one song will probably suffice to change our entire understanding of the genre.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

The Blurb

Pumajaw are chanteuse extraordinaire Pinkie Maclure and musician/sound designer John Wills. This retro-futuristic show blends classic songs from cult movies, including Night of the Hunter and Twin Peaks, with thrilling originals and noirish visuals. 'Bewitching' **** (Scotsman).

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