Live at O2 Academy Leeds on Monday, 31st January 2011
I like to think of myself as a punctual individual - unlike my parents, they have turned being late into an art form - maybe I'm punctual because of them. Anyway, I had to get that in because, I need to start this review with an apology after I missed the first half of the first support band. I swear I was told doors were at 19:30, but when I got to the O2 Academy at 19:35 the gig was well and truly up and running. Eeek!
However, I was the loser as Goldheart Assembly were really, really good - a great, slightly country influenced sound, and an impressive array of facial foliage (a recurring theme for the evening) - so go and check them out next time they're in town!
Next up, a pint or so later, the Mojave 3. They sound like the most quiet and 'country' (for want of a better word) band of the night, with a set starting off with lovely, delicate, sparse, acoustic tracks. Shame that the crowd just talked amongst themselves flicked through their iPods and generally ignored them. Grr!
The academy was filling up quite nicely by the time the 'Band Of Horses', or more specifically lead singer Ben Bridwell and guitarist Tyler Ramsey, rolled on stage. "It's only me and Tyler tonight" said Ben, to murmurs of disappointment, as they took to the stage. "Just F***king wi' ya!" as the remaining four members of the band took the stage. They then launched into a blistering version of "Ode to LRC", a duet at first then the whole band swung in with the predictability and subtlety of a breeze block - but it sounded great!
About three songs in Ben proudly proclaimed that 'this is the best song we've ever written' before performing a new one- personally I thought it was OK, but it's not their best... but during the set they played a great selection from their three albums. It was noticeable, and a little welcome, that they did not play too much from their most recent offering- Infinite Arms. Throughout the set the band were magnificently tight and marvellous sounding, but what really struck me was the quality of Bridwell's voice- once powerful, then haunting, always excellent - a little Mercury Rev, or Neil Young. Through the gig it dawned on me that the merry-go-round of the Band of Horses is really all about Bridwell- not that this is a bad thing - if only all bands had as great a frontman!
However, rather disconcertingly the best moment of the gig came at the start of the encore when Guitarist Tyler Ramsey performed 'Evening Kitchen' almost solo and managed to silence the chattering classes at the back of the O2- though to be honest they shouldn't have been talking in the first place! (grumble, grumble, am I getting to old for this...) This preceded my personal favourite Band of Horses song - 'No One's Gonna Love You' and the big crowd favourite - 'The Funeral' allowing the crowd to go home happily. Marvellous stuff!