Brazen Poetry and Haunting Riffs: On Picture Parlour’s Windmill Debut.

The unapologetically Northern duo are set to give the London scene a much needed shake-up, delivered with impeccable style and show(wo)manship.

Photo: Pete Ray | Words: Natalia Quiros Edmunds

Among the mainstays of London’s alternative music scene, it is an unquestioned fact that the Windmill Brixton is the place to go to find the latest emerging talent. For musicians, securing a slot at this cult venue is a nod of approval from the musical powers that be. Validating support from Tim Perry, the man credited with providing a platform to bands like Goat Girl, Shame, and black midi to name but a few, is an exciting step in the right direction. As one would expect, getting there is no mean feat. So, when the as yet unknown Picture Parlour secured a Friday night show supporting The Queen’s Head for their live debut, it was difficult not to feel that something big was coming.

Unapologetically Northern, brash, and impeccably dressed, Picture Parlour are comprised of singer-songwriter Katherine Parlour and guitarist Ella Risi. Relocating to London from Manchester, they expanded the project into an electric four-piece band with the addition of Michael Nash on drums and Sian Lynch on bass. Off the back of two live performances, the first of which being their debut show at the Windmill, they have caused quite the stir. Tipped by Vocal Girls’ Dani Murden as an act to watch in 2023, the group already boast sellout shows – including an Independent Venue Week support slot with Speedy Wunderground’s Honeyglaze. Not bad for a band that’s only been around a couple of months.

Photo: Audrey Walsh

Drawing inspiration from The Last Shadow Puppets and Nick Cave, their sound leans towards the cinematic and nostalgic and adorns satirical sharp-witted commentaries on contemporary romance. It is a welcomingly fresh sound for the Windmill, whose stage (along with many others in London) has recently been largely dominated by every iteration of the chiseled, taut, suited, scruffy man.

Parlour’s absolute and total command of stage and audience is nothing short of astounding. Her voice is honestly incredible: deep, gruff, and captivating. Buoyed by this, the band’s songs, which stitch brazen poetry to haunting riffs and sleazy bass lines, are nothing short of anthemic. Surrounded by co-writer and guitarist Risi, bassist Lynch, and drummer Nash, the four-piece brought an energy I personally have not felt at the Windmill in a long while. It seemed this sentiment was shared by many in the audience, hounded as I was to find their Instagram by a man in his fifties who claimed not to have felt so inspired by a new band in ages (Radio 6 dads, you’re not ready).

Watching a female-dominated band exercise raw power and natural show(wo)manship is a treat that should not be as much of a novelty as it is. While their gender is nowhere near the most exciting or interesting thing about them, the embarrassing lack of female representation in music (blindingly clear at the BRITS in only the most recent example) this year certainly makes Picture Parlour a breath of much-needed fresh air.

Their next performance will be for a Flashback Records x Still Listening Magazine show at The Old Blue Last on 29th March. With a four track EP on the way, my advice is to watch them for free while you still can.