Band of Horses
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"Alright, mate? I'm at The Leadmill. What? It's a venue. Nah, I'm not around tonight. Give us a bell tomorrow, yeah?"
DiS arrives to hear the above conversational snippet mar the last few bars of 'Island On The Coast'. The place is absolutely rammed; uncomfortably so. When, exactly, did Band Of Horses get so popular? The last gig here we attended that was this oversubscribed: The Pigeon Detectives.
Nobody likes to read a review that spends more time talking about the environment than the band, but tonight it's difficult to pay as much attention to the latter as we'd like. And that's a pity, because Everything All The Time and Cease To Begin are two of this writer's favourite contemporary records.
Clearly we're not alone in recognising their splendour. 'The General Specific' and 'Ode To L.R.C.', both from their latest LP, provoke mass singalongs. And maybe it's because their albums provided moments of genuine catharsis in more difficult times, but somehow it doesn't quite feel right. This was supposed to be personal and cerebral, not communal and pissed up.
It's not their fault, of course. And who'd deny Ben Bridwell et al their place in the sun? Not us. Because regardless of the crowd, regardless of our spot on the floor, tonight still affects like few other shows have of late. 'The Funeral', sends the kind of shivers down the spine we usually reserve for Radiohead gigs. The bit where the guitars kick in, after the intro, is just perfect. It's always just perfect.
There's a smattering of new stuff, too, which picks up where Cease To Begin left off, the band pursuing that record's Americana-inspired direction further still. Add a touch of Wilco to The Shins, mix it up, of course, with a little My Morning Jacket and you've an idea what the third record is shaping up to sound like. In Bridwell, they've a songwriter with the ability to tug just as hard on the heartstrings as Jeff, James and Jim (Tweedy, Mercer or James); on this evidence it'd be a surprise if it wasn't another modern classic. A stylistic departure, in this case, is certainly no necessity.
"No one's gonna love you more than I do" sings Bridwell on the main set's closing song of almost the same name, and we know exactly how he feels. Maybe, though, it's time to resign ourselves to the fact his Band Of Horses are no longer just our little secret.
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