Lost Horizons - Soup Kitchen, Manchester

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:
Lost Horizons - Soup Kitchen, Manchester
Lost Horizons - Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Fresh on the release of the excellent debut Ojala, Simon Raymonde and Ritchie Thomas have brought their Lost Horizons project onto the road with a short UK tour, culminating in tonight's gig at Manchester's Soup Kitchen. With a project dependent on a significant number of guest singers it was intriguing to find out how many were joining Simon and Ritchie in the live environment and how the band would deal with the tracks from those absent. With just Beth Cannon and Ed Riman (aka Hilang Child) from the album, the band are bolstered by support act Dog In The Snow's Helen Ganya Brown, on guitar and vocals, taking turns to lead and support throughout the set.

Helen starts things off with a beautiful rendition of the wistful 'I Saw The Days Go By' which more than matches Marissa Nadler's album version, as the band play concisely and effortlessly around her, with subtle intricate guitar work from Simon and patient drumming from Ritchie, a pattern which is reflected throughout the set. Helen's rendition of 'The Places We've Been' is also impeccable as the unhurried and dreamy instrumentation patters along in support, but it's the oriental-tinged 'Score The Sky' where Helen's vocals are more dexterous and sync effortlessly with the flawless backing, that's a major highlight, especially during the middle, where Simon's 'twanged' guitar, Beth's backing and Chris and Ed's keys support Helen's swooning vocals.

Ed perhaps has a more difficult job with his lead vocals, as evidenced with a slightly awkward version of 'Reckless', which is unsurprisingly nigh on impossible to even reach Ghostpoet's tone and delivery. 'Life Is A Paradox is far more successful, with Ed providing a confident delivery, but it's his take on his own song 'The Engine' which is a highlight, with rich vocals, Richard's almost jazz-tinged drumming and a building, uplifting instrumentation that soars throughout the room.

The star of the show though is undoubtedly Beth Cannon, who adds a great presence and harmonised backing vocals to her co-vocalists lead vocals, but when it's Beth's turn, the whole audience is transfixed on every word and action. 'Give Your Heart Away' and 'Asphyxia' are almost theatrical, with Beth's vocal dexterity evident in every note, as she changes from vulnerable to powerful with regular function in almost the same breath, much like Sinead O Connor perfected in the early 90s. It's 'Bones', Beth's song from the album, though that truly shines, as the tender chorus is punctuated by powerful rock adrenaline at regular shifts, as Beth commands the front of the stage with strong gestures and supreme confidence, to the point you almost forget there's a band behind her. A glorious finale to the main set.

After the intensity of 'Bones', it's nice that the encore is a beautiful rendition of 'She Led Me Away' with Ed taking lead vocals and just subtle tones from Simon and Chris in the instrumentation.

Having all these lead vocalists allows Simon and Ritchie to perform the workmanlike function behind them, but they're not anonymous, enjoying themselves throughout. Though Simon nicely drifts into his old band-mate's effects-driven, soaring-guitar territory on occasion, keeping alive a link to the past, this band is definitely more forward-looking than most. Here's to more excellent live performances and the hope of further material to be debuted further down the line with a rumored second Lost Horizons album on, ahem, the horizon.

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