Live Review: BBC Introducing -Harlea, Pizzagirl and Mellah

BBC Introducing – Harlea, Pizzagirl and Mellah

The Lexington, London, 4th December 2018

Words: Megan Berridge 


Naturally, I arrived late after getting a train and two tubes to get to what can only be described as a thistle amongst roses, The Lexington. The pub itself is lovely, but when it’s a two minute walk from a Hilton hotel, can it really look all that great?

On entering, a small kiosk to the right is where you have to go to being a mission of musical exploration. A quick stamp on the wrist and up the narrow staircase. The bannister of which is glossy black, with chips in the paint forced to flake away from many hands running up and down it.

The room is dimly lit with a disco ball shimmering an extravaganza of red and blue light across the room. It’s like time has stood still with a thick velvet curtain draped along the back of the bar and three chunky, 50s-looking lamp shades hanging in a gawky fashion from the ceiling.

A crowd of all ages is littered around the room and at the front is a pretty, young blonde girl, perched on a stool. I watched her as her voice oscillated, caressing the microphone with gentle brushes of her hands. Her name is Harlea — the opener for the evening. And all I can think is “God, I wish I was her”.

Despite my tardiness, I managed to catch the last few songs of her set. One of which is her new single, ‘Beautifulness’. Bullying guitar twangs away underneath Harlea’s elegantly rough vocals. She sang “You can’t break what’s already broken”. I felt that. She shimmied off her stool and off the stage. The crowd broke into a cacophony of noise.

“He likes pizza and he’s not actually a girl” – The presenter darts offstage.

Incoming Pizzagirl. Now, I’m going to only write good things about him because he gave me a discount on on of his t-shirts. Down from £15 to the very reasonable price of £10. I’m kidding by the way. Not about the t-shirt but about bigging him up, because really, he is pretty darn good.

At the front of the stage was a petit table with a plaid red cloth hung over it — something you might take on a picnic, use to craft a bindle or find in a quaint pizzeria….aaah…What you wouldn’t expect to see next to this kitsch arrangement is a Macbook. See, you always know someone is serious about making music when they have a Mac. #teamgarageband. The fluorescent blue light from the Apple logo glowed amongst the shadows of the stage as if it was the star of the show…or the apple of our eyes.

Pizzagirl, Liam by his normal person name, bounces onto his podium playfully like a week-old puppy. Even after a red bull, I still couldn’t match his energy. He has a shaved head and is donning a t-shirt ornamented with a print of Homer Simpson and Barney Gumble clinking beer glasses — a shockingly similar image to that of me and my friend, Georgie. It was like looking into a mirror.

With one theatrical tap of a button, a thrilling boom of bass shakes the room. I felt my bones trembling. He zig-zagged in front of the audience projecting his resonant and imposing voice onto us all. Liam holds a red guitar doused in glitter like a lover. “I want to introduce you to my band…This is Denise.”

Liam grapples with comedy, bopping around the stage amidst presenting his audience with heart-breaky ballads and upbeat funk, chugging from a bottle of Kronenbourg and dealing with unforeseen technical difficulties. His last chance to wow the crowd was with a piece called ‘Nightclub’. He dropped his girlfriend, Denise, to the floor, taking the microphone as his beau instead. Gut-wrenching bass thrummed away whilst a melancholic phrase tip-toed up and down the keys and slow phrases vocals laced in between.

For the whole duration of his presence, I tried to put my finger on who he sounded like. I was thinking Matty Healy, but better. He took a bow and skipped away into the darkness.

An unlikely looking six-piece ensemble stood slumped in front of their audience. Next was Mellah. Now, I’m sure Mellah is just the stage name for lead singer Liam Ramsden, but personally, just in my opinion, I think it works better as a name for the collective. Each member fashioning a different hairstyle and with it a different instrument including a harmonica.

Their opening track was a sleepy number. I was trying very hard not to fall asleep, just wishing I was as comfy as their frontman Liam who was clearly very cosy in his grey sweats and white socks and no shoes. The six-fold outfit performed a plethora of tunes (they should probably make an album, come on guys) some unholy, others as flowery as the William Morris print on the harmonica player’s shirt.

Closing the show, Mellah gave into the pressure of the crowd and played everyone’s favourite, ‘Greeney Blue’. A mammoth applause that sounded like the Earth opening commenced. Below it, the shrill, wailing guitar pierced through, like rays of sunlight on a cloudy day. This monumentally beautiful track, the sound of being inside a broken heart declined into nothing.

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