Edit this event
- Camden Dingwalls, »
There’s a horrible rumour that dogs The Veils. This is that in 2004, when the initial line-up of the band was dispersed, three suicides were reported in Japan citing it as a reason. The truth of this rumour, I don't know, but I do know that two years ago, attending a Veils concert at Bush Hall in West London, I met not only Japanese people, but also people from Italy and Spain, who had travelled all the way for the sole purpose of seeing them play. Such is the power of Finn Andrews, and such is the paradox of The Veils. Mesmerising, powerful, talented enough to cause hysteria and fanaticism all across the globe, not even famous enough in this country to be playing a headline set when their fans pay a round ticket from Japan just to see them.
Tonight, the contrast is not so acute. While still inexplicably overlooked by the British music press, the band are at least occupying a decent sized stage in their own right, even if Camden’s Dingwalls occasionally demands a ‘Y’ between the two syllables. The crowd too, is pretty normal. A cross section of average gig-goers act as a sign that the band have broken through the underground, but this kind of news is not always welcome to the old fans. Tonight will be the first time for many of us where we won’t be able to go home and say, “it was just me and some other people, and it was AMAZING,” and the first time for me seeing them in a situation where they can’t blow someone else off the stage. Expectations are high. Will the myth of the unsung heroes stand up, here in a venue where I’ve seen the Maccabees play?
Yeah it does.
The Veils are not the kind of band who wait for atmosphere to come to them. I imagine them walking around in a protective bubble of shamanistic smoke, bringing the scent of brimstone to everything they touch (“ham and eggs please, and a box of juice for my faun...”). The moment they enter the stage, the room is transformed. As they fire rapidly through the faster tracks on the recent Sun Gangs, the chain of fairy lights on the microphone becomes a string of fire, and the unassuming thin guy in the big hat is suddenly a desert preacher, his eyes rolling as in some half-executed exorcism. You could say that Andrews demands attention, but it's really more like awe, mixed with grim curiosity (is he having a fit?). While his voice carves its niche somewhere between Brett Anderson and Nick Cave, his performance reminds more of people’s accounts of watching Ian Curtis, at once uncomfortable and impossible to look away. Having read so many reviews heralding the mystical qualities of Bat For Lashes, or the apocalyptic resonance of the Howling Bells, I can’t help thinking that they’re all glasses of water compared to The Veils. Glasses of water held up against blood.
The bush, however, doesn’t burn all night. There's a lull in the middle of the set, when Andrews’ head disappears beneath crowd level, and an under-rehearsed backing vocalist comes to sway nervously on the 'quiet songs'. It’s not quite painful to watch, but it’s a little less exciting than we’re used to. Songs like 'The House Where She Lived' and 'Pan' don’t need to be next to each other just because they’re all piano led, while the infinitely awesome 'Advice for Young Mothers To Be' seems strangely unformed in the absence of its piano part. It’s a small failure in set-list arrangement that's easily forgiven, and indeed, the moment the final stretch of the gig begins, is forgotten. By the time the band are cheered back on stage for a three-strong encore, including the storming title track of their second album, the sense of having seen something extraordinary is back. Furthermore, you realise that it doesn't matter how many people are there with you, it always feels you're the only person in the room.
Amazingly, at the end of the show, there are less people watching than at the beginning. Apparently The Veils can fill a room in London, but they can't hold on to them for 55 minutes. Whether the leavers found the show too intense, too long, or simply unlikeable, only they know, but the mystery of why the British can't get their head around this band is intact. For me, it's clear that The Veils are simply too subtle for a public that deified the Kaiser Chiefs, but then again, maybe some people just can't handle a little blood with their water.
- In Photos: Boardmasters Festival 2011 @ Newquay, Cornwall
- Spotifriday #78 - This Week on DiS as a playlist
- The Veils - Troubles of the Brain
- Guide to 2011 - Part 2: Albums DiS is looking forward to in 2011
- Listen: The Veils The Troubles of The Brain (DiS premiere)
- Spotifriday #27 - This Week on DiS as a playlist
- Favourite Five of 2009 from The Veils
- Spotifriday #10 - This Week on DiS as a Playlist