The Dear Hunter and friends do their darnedest to wake the heavens, and Getintothis’ Gary Lambert, from the beautiful confines of the Scandinavian Church.
Getting to the church partway through Carbon’s opening number gave us fair warning that rather than being used for communicating with the heavens, the bands were ready to wake the heavens with amplified bliss. Carbon are a band for the serious music fan. You are not going to watch or listen to them if you’re hoping for hands in the air moments and then a singalong at the end of the night. Instead they provide a sonic mountain of noise, heavy in power and texture but without the aggression usually required to turn things up to eleven. Even the singing voices used were more like additional instruments to add to the expanse rather than a carry a particular message. We can see a future involving the letters PZYK for sure.
Following on from that, northern rock act, Gumble Bee, kept up the volume motif. As lead singer when playing live, and entire Grumble Bee on record, Jack Bennett introduced the set with “it’s going to be loud”, we could almost feel ourselves searching for our seat belts in trepidation. To be honest the seat belt would not have been necessary as the power and volume and energy created by the band had our bodies and attention pinned from the moment they went KLANG! The musical maelstrom was so intense that we could not pick out a word from Jack’s vocals, but given his description of the acoustic properties of the performance space “the reverb in this room is insane, it sounds like we are under the sea in Finding Nemo” it was no surprise. As their set reached its conclusion the band offered up a ballad to calm things down, but after the opening minute it was back to noise and confusion. Wonderful! Wonderful!
And so the scene was set for The Dear Hunter to blow us away. And they did with aplomb. This was not just a set to entertain the ears, but grabbed the mind too. Musically the band operated with confidence and panache, moving on the walls of sound created by the earlier acts several levels. Tight and talented, the band put on a show filled with humour and theatricality. With hints of vaudeville in the tunes, the band provided a performance which given the setting added surrealism and a touch of old fashioned horror.
With grandeur and falsettos, at times it was like Muse had reached a fork in the road and took the turn towards Nick Cave rather than Conspiracy Hysteria. With Casey Crescenzo taking the audience in the palm of his hand with tales of the road (his brother, drummer Nick ate the 5lb Calzone in Amalia last time in Liverpool, but when they went back today his photo wasn’t on the wall) and many comments about the venue “well this is surreal, some of the lyrics seem weird in here – and the image of you all sitting in church pews watching will scare me for a long time”. This definitely seemed to be the case as he called out “I hope there’s not a heaven above” at the end of Wait. By the end of the night the public had risen from the pews though and were dancing in the aisles. It was probably the most surreal thing that happened.
Photos by Getintothis’ Tom Adam