I begin what I hope will be a slew of band profiles and a few updates from old favorites with something that should warm the hearts of any fans of early Bowie and Roxy Music, Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson, Marc Bolan and T.Rex, ’70s glam and theatrical, symphonic pop.
The Irrespressibles are a 10-piece orchestral ensemble led by creative director, conceptual artist, composer, lead vocalist and choreographer Jamie McDermott, whose beautifully gliding and soaring, operatic voice brings to mind another brilliant entertainer and huge favorite, Klaus Nomi. Based in England (no surprise there), they’ve been performing for rapt audiences all over Europe for seven years, though have only just last year released their debut studio album, Mirror Mirror, which had its U.S. digital release this past summer, with a special edition coming out October 25 that features exclusive remixes from Röyksopp, Hercules & Love Affair and Zero 7 amongst others.
McDermott is a deeply personal confessional songwriter, exploring love, anger, lust and loss with kitsch and tenderness, explosive histrionics and gut-wrenching vulnerability. His upbringing in North Yorkshire, England, with its heady mix of rugged seaside landscape, Roman Catholic schooling, and rich history of bawdy Victorian carnivals and penny arcades obviously had a strong influence on his creativity (as did growing up gay in this setting).
Musically, he is beautifully accompanied by like-minded souls, classically-trained and pop musicians turned performance artists: Jordan Hunt on violin/costume direction, Charlie Stock on viola, Nicole Robson on cello, Sophie Li on double bass, Craig White on oboe, Sarah Kershaw on piano/keyboards, Amy Kelly on vibraphone and orchestral percussion, and actor Anna Westlake on clarinet.
Their name, The Irrepressibles, was borne out of a rebellion against the artificial and superficial world of today’s manufactured pop music. Their mission is to bring artistry and heartfelt emotion back into the genre, and to incorporate the various artistic disciplines into their quest for self expression. It is all about “truthful emotional connection” and “creating a landscape of expressive abandon.”
Mystical and theatrical, their live performances are highly choreographed, multimedia extravaganzas featuring conceptual sets that combine their dramatic music with dance, film, avant-garde costumes and make-up. They’ve graced the stages of some unique and impressive settings – a Roman amphitheatre in Barcelona, a 17th Century villa in Sicily, the historic Hackney Empire, and two shows at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
To my knowledge, they’ve never performed in the U.S., and I will be keeping a close lookout for them in the future. If anyone in their camp is reading this, Boston would warmly welcome you – please come over!