The Vaults is the perfect venue for a subculture super event like the Mimetic festival. Both dingy and vibrant even before you’ve crossed the threshold, it’s hella atmospheric to walk through a tunnel after sundown, illuminated by the authorised graffiti zone that surrounds you. A neon sign above the entrance proclaims that “art and ting” lie within. The scene is set, let’s talk vaginas.
The Ruby Darlings’ opening number is a little lacklustre. As intro ditties go, it’s fine; it hints at the humour to come and there’s a perfectly passable harmony going on, but there’s no sense of originality or excitement to it. They are selling themselves short with this set up.
While the set that follows isn’t breaking any new musical ground, the familiar simplicity of the melodies makes a feature of their cleverly crude lyrics – the fact that many songs sound a bit like something you’ve heard before actually works to their advantage.
And there’s certainly variety here, from the pacey close harmony vibes of She Needs a Dong to sweeping excremental romance number I Will Never, via novelty rap, interpretive dance and poetry. Topics covered include (but are certainly not limited to) masturbation, pubic hair, fingering, chlamydia and choice vaginal euphemisms, all given musical legs by their amiable pianist David who gets nine out of ten Jonah Hill points.
The girls themselves are both charming and vulgar, and each displays a unique vocal style in their solo numbers: brunette Ruby lets rip with an impressive jazz voice in How Long Will He Last, while blonde Darling’s lilting country ballad to a man too enamoured with his own orgasmic prowess is a show highlight.
It’s Darling who handles the audience interaction segments, and she does so with ease and flair. In fact, I was struck throughout by her natural presence; she delivered an entirely competent performance that never felt scripted or rehearsed. As my dad would say, she’s got funny bones. And great hair. I was more than a little bit in love by the end.
And let’s talk about the end, because any shaky starts are forgiven when a finale is this much fun; sandwich boards are distributed among the audience as we’re led in a rousing sing-a-long of the catchiest protest song I’ve ever heard, Say No To Anal. Since I’ll never be able to stop singing it, I don’t really have any choice.
The Ruby Darlings. Mimetic Festival, The Vaults, Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN. 19 November. therubydarlings.com