This is a review of "Live - London 20.12.08" recorded by Glissando. The review was written by Chris Haywood in 2010.
It was two years ago that 'With Our Arms Wide Open We March Towards The Sea' was first released; the full-length debut from the emotive and peerless Leeds band, Glissando. Its multitude of orchestral harmonies, seductive strings and haunting, introverted melancholy was nevertheless met with a mixed reception, often criticised for its sometimes excessive balladry.
But 'Live - London 20.12.08,' a series of live recordings taken from their performance at the Union Chapel in late 2008, captures the underlying echo of gothic ambience and the ethereal nature of the band that was partially lost in the LP. It's much quieter for a start, but no less compelling or heart wrenching.
In fact, with the stripped-down nature of the performance, Elly May Irving's lyrics of affliction and loneliness abound. But it's the gentle repose of her vocals and the soft piano keys that resonate most through the Chapel's cavernous chamber, coming together effortlessly in her vehemence, in which she's entrancing whilst seeming to be completely entranced herself. It's her enigmatic relationship with guitarist Richard Knox (2007 saw the end to their long-term relationship) that comes to the forefront of her lyrics, much of Glissando's material and inevitably this show; after all, without their traditional backing orchestra at hand, Elly and Richard stood solitary together on stage that night. It's because of this that there's so much veracity surrounding the music, which ultimately becomes the most striking feature of the recordings.
However, whilst the four tracks stick to the same strict structure, components and pace, after a while they soon seem to merge together to form just one single plaintive piano melody and series of harmonised solemn vocals. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't take anything away from the beauty and simplicity of their material; with its minimal production and overwrought aura, the fragility of Glissando is palpable after all. But with their repetitive nature and lack of individuality, the tracks could easily be mistaken for one another.
Despite this, I can't deny that Glissando are a pensive paragon. Only an idiot and the lazy wouldn't take advantage and download this free 'live album' from one of the greatest assets of the Leeds music scene. As many a philosopher has said: "Don't complain if it's free. Just enjoy it." I can't agree more.