Heading to Liverpool for the first time, Getintothis‘ David Hall saw Treetop Flyers bring their second album to the stage after a troubled period of absence.
Cutting a solitary but confident figure onstage first was Marvin Powell, performing acoustic folk featuring just his unadorned, soft voice and guitar. There was a clear Nick Drake influence in both Powell’s fingerpicked style and vocal delivery, his pastoral sounding music impressively lyrical. A Joni Mitchell influence also crept in as strummed chords from increasingly open-sounding tunings enriched the James Skelly-endorsed man’s sound as his set unfolded.
Getintothis aficionados will be well aware of our fondness for Skeleton Key four-piece The Shipbuilders, and with good reason. Their songs, Matty Loughlin‘s Scouse bray and guitarist brother Andrew‘s snappy Harrison-esque leads sound like worn-in classics already. What else do Scousers do other than tell stories? Tales of drinking, unrequited love and no money; ‘you’ll never believe what happened to me’s’. Then occasionally The Shipbuilders gazed upwards for the odd insight, like on set closer The Moon. Their bluesy, skiffley Coral-like shuffle is becoming an increasingly familiar sound on the Liverpool live circuit, and one that we look forward to revisiting.
If The Shipbuilders would feel more at home in the dingier settings of somewhere like 24 Kitchen Street, then Leaf Café seemed an ideal fit for bohemian Londoners Treetop Flyers. They took to the stage and launched into a soulful set – frontman Reid Morrison‘s vocal in particular is a plaintive, soul-bearing yowl with feeling to spare – which immediately got a sizable Leaf crowd moving.
Any doubts imparted by their two albums that their live sound would be lightweight were quickly dispelled by their three-guitar setup. Whereas on record, Wurlitzer-led psychedelia can prove thin and reedy, Treetop Flyers are an entirely different live proposition, the songs taking on the spirit of rootsy Americana rather than vintage tie-dye. Tracks like 31 Years‘ inspirations are clearly in the realm of classic rock, a Fleet Foxes filter through which southern-sounding influences like Eagles are shone.
Although their inspirations are retro, Treetop Flyers definitely landed on the heftier end of the rhythm and blues scale, and left plenty of room for their songs to breathe. With space in the arrangements – sometimes augmented with piano, guitarist Sam Beer regularly making his way behind the keyboard – Treetop Flyers’ layered vocals, melodic basslines and outstanding guitar work received the nurturing they needed to blossom.
The meandering, psychedelic single Dance Through the Night closed proceedings for the main set, but not without a great deal of groundwork put in place before, and by closing with the upbeat debut album opener Things Will Change. Elsewhere, new album Palomino‘s energy and intensity was dialled up several notches for the Leaf crowd, who along with Getintothis, surely hope that Treetop Flyers’ next Liverpool visit is less than seven years in the making.