Bishi + The Sliding Rule, Bardens Boudoir,   Sunday 8th March By Yasmin Selena Butt Despite having the most shameful ladies toilet in a North London venue,  Dalston’s Barden’s Boudoir still attracts exciting, up and coming performers down the steps and through it’s door.  The venue hosted a mixed evening as part of the London Word Festival. Mixed, as the middle act Lupen Crook due to London’s uncooperative traffic was a no show, which left audiences witness to two main performers on the night, (after support from the opener The Sleeping Years) - soloist, The Sliding Rule - the moniker adopted by vocalist Nima  (ex-Hush the Many (Heed The Few) and now in Arrows of Love) and headlining Anglo-Asian performer Bishi. The Sliding Rule’s set opened quietly and unobtrusively with an acoustic, gentle version of ‘Prescriptions’ – a song that normally finds the raven-haired singer screaming into his mic. The beauty of Nima flying solo is his freedom to flex his musical muscles and appease his creative yearnings where he wishes to, with no band waiting on his cues and no one to agree his set list with. It’s a self indulgence that can sometimes yield gorgeous, results like the heart-stoppingly lovely and sorrowful ‘The Devil Spoke’ – a song about lovers trying to justify an illicit love, ‘ sinners take my bed…convinced yourselves that every touch is right and that this will bring you closer to God,’ and other times it can be messy, and sprawling, almost a stream of consciousness with no apparent form or structure that can leave you wonder where it’s going, the reworking of ‘Desire’ – formerly a Hush The Many song felt puzzling in places. The normally effusive vocalist today felt like remaining quiet with his audience, until a technical glitch with his loop pedals during a brief version of ‘Song Of A Page’ had everyone in laughter. Experimental and never predictable, he now has a rich catalogue of music to choose from. The set ends with a gentle harking back to another Hush song, ’Smiling.’ It’s beguiling and tender, and a quiet almost shy note to end a pensive set on. After a quick wave he swiftly leaves the stage and heads out for smoke, with his guitar loop still playing. Lupen Crook can’t make it. So, Bishi is on earlier than anticipated. The beautiful lady who’s best friends with the ultra glittery Patrick Wolf takes to the stage clutching a sitar looking like a mixture of a Westwood tinged burlesque muse in retro, with her eclectic, slightly battered looking band behind her. They’ve good reason to look a bit ragged, the night before saw the East meets West musical fusion playing South Bank and partying until the wee hours. The attentive crowd tonight revel in the intimacy of enjoying her in such a cosy ambience. The music is a surprise, despite the sitar - some of the songs sound more akin to madrigals from days of yore. Set opener ‘Three Ravens’ is homage to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s a mix of history and contemporary;  ‘Nightbus’ is an upbeat tale of partying on London buses with the waifs and strays bemoaning  ‘200 languages…. I just want to get home.’ There’s even a song about grandmothers in Bishi’s set. It’s unexpected, but that in itself is refreshing. Her last song ‘ The Beast Demystified’ is a escalating, thumping cacophony of sound thrilling about the  ‘..all-seeing eye,’ inspired by Aleister Crowley, infamous for his love of opiates and the occult. Tonight she showcased her range and ability – a great taster for the uninitiated. With her strong, clear voice and an easy rapport with the crowd which sees her telling tales of parties in Dalston and meeting Tony Benn – she has a confidence and relaxed showmanship that would translate beautifully on a bigger stage. At one point she comments, ‘ you’re a shy lot aren’t you? I’m not shy.’  Bishi is cool and a true original. For more about the artists visit: www.myspace.com/theslidingrule www.myspace.com/bishimusic