The Lovely Eggs,
Rob Auton and Gwenifer Raymond

Cambridge Junction 2
11th April 2022

Words and pix by Citrus George and Theo Horler
More of Theo's pix are here

The Lovely Eggs are from Lancaster, a university city not unlike Cambridge but just below the Lake District and a few miles from the North West coast. The last time I visited there was about twenty years ago. Back then it had a great vibe and was full of locals and students into music that seemed to be mostly heavily metal and goth influenced. There were loads of gigs and club nights going on that were lively and well attended. Looking at The Eggs' Bandcamp site the local band scene seems to be thriving more than ever but there also seems to be a struggle to keep certain live venues going.There is a CD to raise funds for the Lancaster Music Coop with some great contributions from local bands a snip at £5 or here more if you're feeling generous.

This is the second time that I have been to see The Lovely Eggs play live in Cambridge with my son Theo. The first was an under 14’s afternoon gig at The Portland Arms in November 2014 and we remember it well as an interactive and inspiring experience, encouraging kids to get up on stage and perform with passion and attitude…. basically teaching them to not care what people think and express themselves. They were booked by Richard Rose from R*E*P*E*A*T Records and so it was also tied to and raising money for Love Music Hate Racism.

This time round we have been asked to take photos and review the gig which is an exciting and timely surprise as it is the day after Theo's 16th Birthday….

When we arrive at the venue we get our photo passes (yey!) and head straight into the auditorium where we find Gwenifer Raymond draped over an acoustic guitar making a wonderful cacophony of sound. Her thundering open chord strumming and finger and thumb picking effortlessly create triplets, quadruplets and arpeggios that build up to frantic riff-fests then give way to plucked harmonics that ring out until they are muted at exactly the right point by the meticulous creator of soundscapes from a freshly stung and perfectly crisp sounding acoustic guitar. Haunting melodies effortlessly cross rhythms and glide from major to minor keys backed by the slapping of bass strings or striking of the fretboard with her thumb that produces a formidable and unworldly crashing sound which either allows for more eerie mysticism to float in or signals the end of the track with brutal authority.

Gwen's latest offering 'Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain' is an extraordinary record that possesses all the sonic fullness and raw power of her live performance. It's like the guitar jumps out at you and literally fills every corner of the room. It is brilliantly recorded and performed and was hailed by The Guardian's as their Folk Album of the Month November 2020. The track ‘Gwaed am Gwaed’ was chosen as one of the tracks of the month on Nihal Arthanayake's Radio 5 music review. It really does feel as if a huge undiscovered talent is lurking behind the scenes waiting to be unleashed on the UK live music circuit.

Having watched her set we grab a couple of cokes at the bar and chat to the guy on the t-shirt stand who says that the album and merch artwork is done by Gwenifer's brother, Casey. Too much talent in one family! A little while later we see Gwen standing on her own so Theo persuades me to go over, tell her we are reviewing the gig and ask her if she would be happy to answer a few questions, which is a first for me and is very brief and clumsy on my part, but we do ascertain that she was inspired to get into guitar playing after hearing ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana for the first time and that the record, played to her by her Mum, changed her life forever. She tells us that she has been playing for about twenty years and is influenced by ‘classic’ country-folk players such as John Fahey. I nod dutifully trying to pretend that I have intimate knowledge of such musical greats, which I don’t, but on listening to his material I can easily see the comparison although there is definitely something darker, deeper and edgier in Gwen’s playing that contains grunge and punk sensibilities within a primitive folk style, and it is mesmerising to listen to. Looking at her bio on her website it transpires that Gwen is also a drummer which, on reflection, isn’t surprising considering the complexity of the rhythms that she plays out with the thumb and finger pick-ladened right hand. We took the kids to a songwriting workshop at Cambridge Folk Festival a few years ago held by Nick Mulvey, who is also a drummer and uses his right hand to create a percussion part, that he then builds the rest of the chord structures around before coming up with the tune and lyrics. I ask her if she sings as well, and she says that she can’t really sing which I don’t believe for a second, although I think afterwards it was a daft question really as the sound that she makes is so huge and majestic that there really isn’t space for anything else.

Rob Auton comes on stage looking disheveled and bewildered pacing the around the stage introducing himself and then asking for the audience to pretend they've seen him before to promote a heartier reaction. We were told that comedians don’t usually like to be photographed so we just stand at the front and enjoy his set. I was a bit nervous about getting singled out for comedy fodder as we were right at the front, but luckily for us this doesn’t appear to be Rob’s style. He does interact with the audience but seems to have a sensitivity lacking in most comedians. In fact, he comes across more as a mate down the pub which if anything makes the set funnier. At one point he is questioned about a joke by a a member of the audience in the spirit of friendly banter and he decides to leave it and do something else. Almost the reverse of the classic humiliation or put down of a heckler that we have come to expect from stand ups. He is naturally funny and makes us laugh. A lot. It is surreal humour, playing with language, imagery and words which definitely appeals to Theo and I feel is harder, more impressive and less predictable than some situation comedy acts. One of my favorite bits was, and this is not a quote, “I knew the world was going to end when I put milk on my Rice Krispies and the was no sound…..”. He also had a great poem about his room being painted, instead of yellow (his favorite colour).... Maroon. This leads to endless lines about being marooned in my (ma) room and so on until he notices a drip of maroon paint running down his clock…. “There’s maroon on ma noon!”. Rob has two books of poetry for sale which he carried around and either picked up or threw onto the floor of the stage with lots of scraps of paper marking out excerpts to read out, presumably. The randomness and chaotic nature of his routine was endearing and felt genuine and unprepared, relying on more improvisational skills, maybe gauging the audience’s reaction and adjusting the material accordingly. Whatever is going through Rob Auton’s mind, and whether he planned out his set or not, really doesn’t matter. He made us and the rest of the audience laugh and seeing inside his mind for half an hour was a surreal but thoroughly enjoyable experience.

"This Is Eggland" (2018) is produced by Dave Fridmann who also produced The Flaming Lips' mighty album "Clouds Taste Metallic" and you can hear some similarities there in the overall textures especially the shiny droning guitars and thwacking drum sounds that sharply cut through the mix. It's a great record, but "I am Moron" (2020) and the accompanying single "I, Moron" (2021) with Iggy Pop takes everything up a gear. It is sonically fabulous and even better, full of bravado,uncompromising psychedelic rock and roll and punk attitude with vocals that effortlessly shred and scream out the lyrics that are sometimes random, sometimes profound but never pretentious. "Long Stem Carnations", "I Wanna" and "You Can Go Now" are stand-out tracks that sounded as good live as on the record. In fact the mix at The Junction 2 was superb all evening, so a shout out to the guy on the Star Trek looking sound desk.

Theo was very impressed with The Eggs’ performance at The Junction and said that compared to other gigs he's been to, they were much more lively and interactive with the audience. He noticed that they kept the crowd together and made sure that whatever was going on, they stayed focused and feeling like they were contributing to making the event even better; for example a ball was thrown into the crowd in the song "You've got the Ball" to create a bit of fun and also to grab people's attention and to not only engage with the band but with each other as well, which made the entire performance really enjoyable. Although this is a small example, the band kept giving the audience moments to speak up for themselves, to make each other laugh and give each other the confidence that they needed. The lighting would change colour depending on the part and the mood of the song. During "Wiggy Giggy" and later on, squares were projected on the floor of the stage which was really effective. Visually, Holly being the main focus of the group as there are only two of them and David is usually behind the drum kit, made a formidable presence and filled the stage striking iconic poses with her guitar above her head or lifting a leg and bellting out her vocals with passion, often moving around and always entertaining to watch.

Lots of people in the audience were taking pictures and in return Holly took a picture of the audience on a disposable camera. She did this because she wanted to remember how great the audience were during the performance and stated that they had not been able to play in Cambridge for two years due to the pandemic and wouldn't be back again for another two years so they were going to make sure everyone had a good time. The gig at The Junction had the same effect on us and this is part of the appeal of The Lovely Eggs. They blatantly don’t care what people think of them and perform with a ferocity that is exhilarating and an honesty that is so refreshing. There was some lovely moments when the two of them were talking about their experiences, including a swipe at bands who moan about having booze provided in their dressing rooms. "That's the best thing about being on tour!" Holly shouts incredulously. They go on a tangent about the hotel they stayed in the night before which they described as the "Fawlty Towers of Tunbridge Wells" and describe a vending machine in a corridor with a framed photo of the same vending machine and corridor above it as "A Twin Peaks moment". It was a Monday night, but as Holly said downing a can of cider… "get the drinks in and enjoy yourselves because every night is Saturday night in Eggland!"

It works and we leave thinking we'd like to go to Eggland again very soon.

Big thanks to James at Division PR for sorting this out

Support the artists- Links

Gwenifer Raymond will be performing at this year's Cambridge Folk Festival on Saturday the 30th July alongside Passenger, This Is The Kit and Afro Celt Sound System amongst others.

Her album "Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain" is available to buy on Bandcamp.

Full details of her tour dates and merch are at her website.

Rob Auton is currently on tour in the UK including the Wells Comedy Festival on Saturday the 28th May.

He also had a podcast available to listen to on most platforms including Spotify.

Further details available at his website

The Lovely Eggs are currently touring the UK and will be performing on Friday 5th August at the Rebellion Punk Festival alongside The Stranglers, Sham 69, The Skids and The Undertones amongst many others. Tickets for the festival are available on this website

Check out everything you need to know about the Lovely Eggs, their music, merch, love dates and sales on their website

Thank you to Green Mind Gigs for putting on the event and for letting us review and take photos. We loved it!!!

George and Theo