Live at Cockpit on Tuesday, 28th March 2006
The gig-opener Richard Jones tentatively occupies the stage, hunched over his guitar with hair carefully covering the face. His reticence is unfounded with beautiful, soft melodies barely audible above a whisper without the aid of a microphone which he appears to view with apprehension. His folksy melodies are reminiscent of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci during their hippy stage. His harmonica searing over the softer tracks gives a raw edge to escape the hum drum. Vocals such as 'When I see you in the moonlight' escape kitsch by the frenetic guitar duet that accompanies them. His live set is flawless; all he lacks now is stage presence which only makes his self-effacing attitude more charmingly endearing.
The anticipation of the crowd is slightly dampened by the ensuing power cut, leaving us in darkness for half an hour so the reception Hope of the States receives is slightly subdued. However, they win back the crowd slowly but surely with teasing banter and their sheer energy. It's always encouraging to watch a band who are clearly passionate about the music they play and Hope of the States don't disappoint. This is their first gig in a while and they're clearly appreciating the live experience; while the bassist jerks around the stage, the guitarist mirrors this energy with his contorted facial expressions. The pounding intensity of the music is clearly felt by all with a stunned pause following each song before the audience burst into applause. Hope of the States make a majestic squall of sound and aren't timid about assailing our ears. The vocals are slightly weak yet its unclear whether this is a fault of the singer's or the barrage of noise that accompanies him. The constant noise is almost hypnotising with the quieter numbers jolting the audience out of a high-decibel led reverie. The drums are refreshingly understated with bass taking precedent; it seems as if the band have developed their own unique form of rhythm section. They are particularly impressive when playing their new material. Their clear enthusiasm for showcasing their latest creations lends a renewed energy to the set. Their new material also reveals a maturer sound with a greater breadth of instruments; notably the violin played by a bald-headed guy who wouldn't look out of place on the door, yet plays with such skill as to give their macho music a whole new sensitive side. Hope of the States make a beautiful din; their ramshackle sound is perfectly crafted. This band are the connoisseurs of chaos.