Paisley Fields @ The Folklore Sessions, Brighton, UK, January 31, 2024 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 27th, 2024  

Paisley Fields

Paisley Fields, M. Butterfly, Pink Suits

Paisley Fields @ The Folklore Sessions, Brighton, UK, January 31, 2024,

Feb 01, 2024 Web Exclusive
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I’m not the biggest country fan. Don’t get me wrong. I know my Loretta Lynn’s from my Crystal Gayle’s. I’m a fan of outlaw country and have the majority of the albums Johnny Cash released, but it’s not a genre I spend a lot of time with week on week. So, I was excited to head to a country night on a dank and gloomy Wednesday night in January. I needed some escapism.

The evening was kicked off by local singer-songwriter M. Butterfly. His set was country tinged, but also tapped into that rich vein of classic singer songwriters. Think of Neil Young, John Darnielle and Michael Stipe and you’re on the right lines. Opening track “Roadside Picnic” was about “The first boy I ever had a crush on that wasn’t David Duchovny,” said M. Butterfly before adding, “That bit always gets a laugh. Not sure why…” more laughter ensued. The next song was from his next album of protest songs “Cowards Blues”. It was people looking the other way when bad things go down and thinking it won’t happen to them. The set was emotionally charged. These songs meant something to the singer-songwriter and resonated with the audience too. “Call When You Get Home” was dedicated to childhood friend, and cult musician, Jo Rose who recently passed away.

After a short interval Pink Suits were up next. Pink Suits host “Queer Cuntry” in Margate. “The arse of the UK” is how they affectionately called their hometown at the start of their set. This is a queer country night where a nine-piece band, featuring seven drag queens, play country covers. “We can’t afford to bring them all here tonight. So, it’s just us,” they said. Their set was mostly classic country covers. Pansy Division’s “Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other” was a standout moment. At the end of Johnny Cash’s banger “A Boy Named Sue” Ray Prendergast said “I’m not having kids. Not on the agenda for me. BUT if you are a parent and one day you kid decides they don’t want the name you picked for them, or to change their gender and orientation from what you want. Support them. They just want love.” This brought a tsunami of applause. The set ended with a new original song “Dystopian Hellscape”. This is a scathing attack on the Conservative party and everything they stand for. Again, a tsunami of applause exploded from the crowd.

The headline was definitely worth waiting for. Paisley Fields on keyboard, was accompanied by Jessie French on guitar, who was decked out in black cowboy hat, spangly cowboy boots, cowpoke jeans and a sequined American football shirt emblazoned with “Game Day” on it. It was game day indeed. Throughout their forty-minutes set Fields tackled issues of dating, sex, institutional bigotry, and coming out in a small town. “Other Boys” was about coming out to his grandma. They said they used to go to her house as a kid and they’d play dress up with her jewellery, clip on earrings, and high heels and drink tea and eat cake. One day she gave him a present for when they came over. Their own clip-on earrings. When Paisley came out, it was to grandma first and she said, “I’ve known this for a LONG time” and they hugged. Then they ate cake and drank tea. It was a heartwarming story to go along with a tender banger. “Burn this Statehouse Down” was more politically charged. Early in 2023 Tennessee Governor Bill Lee wanted to draft a law imposing restriction on drag queen performances. Fields and songwriting friend Mya Byrne wanted to do something about. So, they wrote a song about it. Put it on the internet. It became an unexpected hit and NPR ranked it in their fifteen best songs of 2023. Oh, and the kicker? Gov. Lee’s yearbook was found and in it, he was in drag… Yup… Jokes. The song is incredibly catchy and with more twang than a ruler being used to fire rubbers in a primary school. “Iowa” was about leaving your hometown because you don’t fit in/want more from life. It was tender and if it hadn’t been for Fields’ delivery would have been a real tearjerker. Paisley Fields is an incredible songwriter. Their songs are full of pathos, but also humour. The humour doesn’t take the edge off the music, but it does make it more palpable.

Paisley Fields
Paisley Fields

And then it was over. It has been an excellent night of solid songwriting, killer melodies and delightful nudie suits. The only downside was that Pink Suits hadn’t performed enough original material. Their final song was such a blast that a couple more of the same would have elevated their set. But back to reality we went. As a contrast to the collective hug in I’d just experienced I saw the start of a fight brewing on the way home. Some meathead lands have been kicked out of a pub for being, well, smashed. They were discussing whether they should go back and ‘sort out’ the bouncers. As I walked past the five hench bouncers they seemed up for the idea but were holding their ground. Eugh. Reality sucks. Why can’t we live in the glitter and sawdust world that M. Butterfly, Pink Suits and Paisley Fields painted?


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