Howling Bells return to the city that launched their career, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson salutes Juanita Stein and co. as they continue to bare their soul.
It’s never a great start when you address the crowd at your debut Liverpool show as London. It’s even worse when that crowd are made up by as little as eleven people. Which is exactly the number of folks making up the audience for Glassmaps – the solo side project of Joel Stein, guitarist of headliners Howling Bells.
However, non-phased by the almost empty room in front of him, Stein put in an impressive performance in what was only his second show unedr the Glassmaps moniker. His music encompassed widescreen guitars and soaring melodies, showcasing his talent as a storytelling songwriter.
Glassmaps performing live at East Village Arts Club
Less impressive were London’s Climbing Boys, a quartet who have recently been signed up by ex-Kaiser Chief drummer Nick Hodgson. Their post-punk sound shows a lot of promise in places, with dark, driving Joy Division-aping riffs, however seems to lack much substance beneath the clatter of guitars. The vocal melodies of singer Tom Salo struggled to fight through the melee of noise. There’s quite a bit of climbing to do before we revisit this lot.
Climbing Boys performing live at East Village Arts Club
Almost ten years since recording their self titled debut LP at Liverpool’s Parr St Studios, Sydney’s Howling Bells returned to the next street along to showcase their brand new, fourth studio album Heartstrings.
The Aussie quartet performed a career-spanning set, taking tracks from all four releases including Low Happening, from their self titled debut, which was treated with the reception of a true fans favourite.
Performed with real swagger, the fuzzy guitars making it a rockier sound than on record, while in contrast, Velvet Girl is delicate and atmospheric, with the slow crawling guitars giving it a menacing sound. Another real stand out track from the set is Cities Burning Down from 2009 album Radio Wars with its dark lyrics and a huge crescendo of guitars bringing it to an apocalyptic climax.
Juanita Stein of Howling Bells performing live at East Village Arts Club
Despite the reception given to the older, more recognised tracks, some of the highlights were taken from Heartstrings, released on June 2. Latest single Your Love channelled Howling Bells‘ pop influence through a catchy chorus whilst the combination of soft piano and strings on Paper Heart gave the East Village Arts Club loft an intimate feel as vocalist Juanita Stein bared her soul.
The night was brought to a euphoric close with Reverie with its huge cascading chorus, illustrating that although the band doesn’t involve some of the strings and other instrumentation featured on record, it doesn’t fail to capture the atmosphere.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Keith Ainsworth
Further reading on Getintothis:
Singles Club #90 featuring Howling Bells
Paul Weller set for intimate show at East Village Arts Club
Tea Street Band – eponymous debut album on first listen
Liverpool bands line up for Brazil World Cup 2014.
Forest Swords: From Norse sacrifices to Smooth FM and making the follow up to Engravings.
Twilight Sad to play cult debut album in full in Liverpool.
LIMF 2014: By The Sea, Baltic Fleet & more set for Getintothis & Bido Lito! stage in Sefton Park.
LightNight Liverpool 2014: Cathedral, Black-E, FACT, St Luke’s Church – picture gallery.
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Review round up and top 10 bands of the festival.
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Picture gallery from all three days of the festival.
Liverpool Sound City 2014 – all the bands reviewed from the three days.