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All photos by Rob Blackham.
Being Buffalo start the show and two members are wearing wooly/beanie hats inside a venue that’s already reasonably full. Their heads were probably uncomfortably hot by the end. Duelling male and female vocals sit on top of some enthusiastic strumming. They’re not really duelling actually, more like holding hands through a hilly walk where they pass lots of wooden wheels. A highlight of the set is ‘April’, that has a soothing opening before jangling into life. It would sit nicely in Zooey Deschanel’s vinyl collection.
A barstool is used as a keyboard stand for Passport to Stockholm‘s set, it causes their lead singer to lurch forward for the entirety of the set. He’s wearing a Clubber Lang t-shirt too, so that’s cool. A full room are treated to a sound that’s danceable, yet tinged with strained emotion. The percussionist unleashes his beats with such passion during ‘Chemistry’ that he smashed a zill off his tambourine and didn’t seem to care.
If Mumford & Sons are playing at the village fete,Brother and Bonesare causing a riot in the local whorehouse.
Starting their set in silhouette, the band brew into life with a gradually ramping number that transform the band from a collection of dark shifting shapes into a five-headed treasure hunting monster of chiseled men. ‘Back to Shore’ is sung directly back into the faces of the band with a relentless level of fervour. From an older hit this is to be expected, but what is most heartening is how this is repeated for the title track of their latest EP, ‘To Be Alive’, that was released on Monday.
The only negative to the rowdiness was that when it was time for the stripped-back solo beauty ‘Gold and Silver’ there was noticeable chatting. It was an annoyance to those who had paid to listen to the band, rather than just get totally blotto on a Saturday night. If you’re the kind of person who does this, never go to a gig ever again… or to be a little less militant, just go outside if you insist on having a chat during a quiet bit of the set.
From here onwards it was a more raucous affair. Frontman Rich looks like a rakish modern-day pirate with a half-open shirt, curated facial hair, and necking rum (presumably) throughout the set. He opens ‘Hold Me Like The Sun’ with a freewheeling guitar line that could soundtrack some very bad people having a very good time. His voice veers from a tender stroking hand across your poorly forehead to a boulder smashing through jail-cell walls to unshackle the minions of the night out across the badlands of… er, Guildford.
Heroic guitar solos peel out as an earthy Folk base gives a firm platform to fly from, while the drummers (one sitting, one standing) rumble the stage with mid-section lurching rounds of thundering tribal percussion. It’s this layering of sounds on top of a sturdy, more traditional, foundation that give the band their own special aura. It’s able to sound new and forward-looking without bringing electronics, samples, and superstar producers into the picture.
‘Don’t Forget To Pray’ opens the encore. A messianical delivery gives it an omnipotent presence, ready to bring crushing judgement down upon the unclean. The stomping, head-banging reception is far more akin to a metal gig than anything involving an acoustic guitar. It’s a belter that deserves to be roared by jammed rooms on a nightly basis.
Rock, as it stands, is getting stale. It’s far too much to call Brother and Bones saviours of anything with six strings, or the lone hope carrying the torch for loud guitar-based music. They’re neither. But what they give is a hint as to where the future of this genre can be found. It’s not cash-in reunions or overpriced shows with full album play-throughs. It’s here in the coal-face, where bands are out there making fresh music with older ingredients if you take the time to look for them. It’s alive, it’s fun, and it’s as entertaining on a Saturday night as any idiot with a cross fader. It needs people to stop crying about festival headliners, quit fussing over a potential Oasis reunion, and look for the people who are making new, exciting music. Here’s a great place to start
Brother & Bones’ new EP is out now, check out the video for the title track ‘To Be Alive’. Their remaining November tour dates can be found here.