Band of Horses
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- ABC, Glasgow, Scotland »
- Band of Horses »
Glasgow is very much Edwin Morgan’s city this evening. That pregnant pause of cloud which had existed in the peripheries of the collective subconscious now issues forth a deluge. The rain cracks and fizzles against an ambuscade of broken umbrellas and faces pinched in concentration and denial. It deserves a better fate than this; clinging to the butt of a smoking derringer or flattened on the windscreens of speeding getaway cars. Such lofty ideals are beyond it tonight, it exists where it exists tonight. It collects in puddles on pockmarked commuter pavements, trapping the belch of neon reflections.
I’m tying my fate in with it tonight, casting myself as the nomad of storms, awaiting a lift beyond and above. It’s possible Band of Horses may just do this. Their albums (they are here to promote their second) are surfeit with melancholic reveries. They exist as the rhetoric of the disaffected, a prayer for the fallen. The rains increase, increase, the wind scalpels past our faces. We push forward and let the venue envelop us.
The band that stands before me now, they look very little like my redeemers. The lazy epithet demands I use the word ‘grizzly’ to describe their appearance. Bedecked in tattoos, checked shirts and beards, I prefer the word ‘escaped’ as capturing my immediate thoughts. In some ways it’s symptomatic of what they represent. On record they are a band that sneak up on you, songs that start as gentle melodies snarl into insistent pummelling torch songs. Live, it’s no different.
From the outset the vocals are reverb heavy, striving and failing gloriously. ‘The Great Salt Lake’ and ‘Monsters’ sound imperious. That almost collapsing beat that frames the songs pitches and sways like a brawler whose best bar-room fights are behind him. It jars and shimmers, and leads you with weary hand to dusk-filled vistas. It is transcendent, I have forgotten where I am; the rains are far gone.
By the time they get to the JJ Cale cover we are fantastically lost. A song that could be one of their one, wrought in oil and brick dust, it receives both rapturous attention and applause. Indeed, the crowd tonight are appreciative, Ben’s “Woo” that punctuates the end of most songs are thrown back at him with equal gutso.
It feels further and further away from Glasgow, displaced from our geography. The barn-stompers (of which they are a few) would feel equally at home in the stereotypical sawdust floor bar as here. That’s not to say they lack finesse or subtlety, they simply radiate that untamed enthusiasm. It feels everyman, and yet personal.
The last song of the night, before the encores at least, is ‘Funeral’. And it is here we find ourselves floating gently landward once more. The harp that had sat against the blackout curtain is now wheeled, in all it’s psychedelic glory, to front of stage, harpist attached.
It doesn’t work.
For what must have seemed like a good idea, it grates. The harp clashes with something, the guitar line, the vocal melody, the piano part: I’m not sure. But the song takes on distinct parts that don’t seem to be moving in the same direction, someone is dragging their heels.
Not that it’s a disaster, it just doesn’t tear into the bloodstream as I wanted; if it was perfect, it would be too perfect. It’s better that there is a little crooked clockwork, otherwise you’re staring down the barrel of U2.
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