Friday, 20 November 2009

741 BAND OF HORSES, The Cave Singers, Bristol Thekla, Monday 25 February 2008

Finally I get to do the "gig on a boat" thing and go to the Thekla, after many spurned opportunities! This was also to see rising stars Band Of Horses, who'd delivered 2 albums in short order, veering between alt and trad country of the dustiest, most stripped back variety, and occasional resonant and deliciously strident wall-of-noise US alt-rock. Big beards too, so I'm told. More contenders for the title of The New Grandaddy?

So anyway, I set sail for this one, parking up in the very conveniently placed car park and going on board the venue (!), turning down a bouncer's offer of £100 for my ticket, allegedly on behalf of a disappointed punter, for this sell-out show. You're not serious, surely?? It's a good venue, run-down and very rock'n'roll, about the size of the Fleece and with good high-roof acoustics and balcony, but definitely a boat! Got a position starboard-side for openers the Cave Singers, who did a very trad-country set of dusty lullabies, with the vocalist rocking a big beard (or so I thought at the time) and a trilby hat. "We're about 1/4 of the way through," he said before their last number. Funny...

It was appropriate that the gig was taking place on an old rusty trawler, as when the 6-piece Band Of Horses took the stage at 9.15 prompt, they looked like a gang of Pacific Longshoremen, all work shirts and huge beards (I've used "Amish Farmers" to describe Grandaddy before, and that wasn't far off here either!). Live, they definitely tended towards the dusty country side of their output, with the superslow burn of opener "Monsters" typical, although after "Is There A Ghost" (my favourite, a delicious Pale Saints-like wall of noise affair), a rock gig briefly threatened to break out...

No, this Band Of Horses were set to trot rather than gallop, with "No-One's Gonna Love You" a heart-melting set highlight, delivered with the Wayne Coyne-esque helium vocals of Ben Bridwell, sounding an octave too high for comfort, but making it work. The sing-along stomp of "The General Specific" ended a fine set and encore of 1 hour 15 minutes, by which time I was at the front and scrounging a set-list from burly keyboardist Ryan Munroe, who also shook my hand with his huge meaty paw. So, a fine evening, although they'll have to step up a gear "live" for the bigger venues that inevitably await. They're at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in July - we'll be there too, so we'll see!

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