Band of Horses/The Hellsayers

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Scala
  • 2007-05-22

This first show in London followed Band Of Horses’ live UK debut in the previous weekend’s ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties vs The Fans’ festival in Minehead, Somerset. These shows, part of a short tour, were a break from Band Of Horses’ recording of a new album.

Support came in the form of Wayne Robbins & The Hellsayers whose ragged riffs took a while to get going. But by the final few songs the melodic light of their recorded output shone through. Their album, The Lonesome Sea could be something of a slow-burner, very much like the headliners, whose Everything All The Time LP has been available on import for ages but only now is starting to get the attention it deserves.

Sweet melancholy wrapped up in the cathartic dynamic of Nirvana.

Here Band Of Horses showcased two sides of their wonderful debut. The driving country rock elements were given heart, soul and hobnail boots in the live setting. In this fairly small venue the guitars roared and Ben Bridwell’s vocals soared above this tumult. “The Great Salt Lake” and “First Song” were marvellous Magnolia Electric Company-like celebrations. Perhaps the best track on Everything All The Time, “The Funeral”, was frankly amazing in its live form, and treated like such by the audience; sweet melancholy wrapped up in the cathartic dynamic of Nirvana.

The show also displayed the swooning, plaintive side of EATT. A slide-guitar led “Monsters” was a particular highlight (“If I am lost it’s only for a little while”), but the double bass ballad “Our Swords” and “Part One” were both terrific – the former quietly majestic and the latter sending shivers down the spine.

Their debut’s more celebrated tracks appeared fairly early, brave for a band playing their first show on these shores, but the new tracks were of the same high-quality and suggested they are still very much on course. “The Dog Has Gone” (OK, I’m taking a leap on the title as Bridwell didn’t announce it) was an evocative view of smalltown middle America. The currently untitled closer was a classic in the making, southern-fried soul epic featuring raw, impassioned vocals . Quite possibly a new-LP maker.

Band Of Horses follow a linear path from Neil Young to My Morning Jacket, and share both’s ability to connect pastorally and aggressively with an audience. At times they also displayed as much affinity with the fuzzed-up racket of Mudhoney, but regardless of where their songs find reference the sound is their own and is very much on an upward spiral. To coin a phrase used frequently by Bridwell throughout the set: “Get in!”

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