The Middle East - Mercury Lounge, New York - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Middle East - Mercury Lounge, New York

by Hiro Master Rating:8 Release Date:

The Middle East have got something brewing. Their only release to date has been The Recordings of The Middle East, a five track EP. Yet in tonight's hour-long set the Australians from Townsville play only two songs from it, preferring to spend their sold out New York headline show testing a series of tracks that will undoubtedly grace their first full-length release.

It's a shame, because the best moments come from the two released tracks, particularly set opener The Darkest Side. Taking to the stage, the band fiddle around for what seems forever. The crowd get restless, talking and turning away from the stage. But then Jordan Ireland starts plucking out the opening chords and begins his alto timbre, stopping only to request more light from his stage crew. "We asked for low light," he jokes. "But I can't see a thing." The interruption only heightens the mood, and Bree Tranter soon adds her delicate mumblings. A hush sweeps over the crowd. These two can sing.

After that, though, it gets a bit chaotic. The seven bodies pit mandolins, microphones and macbook pros against banjos, basses and beats. Trumpets and flutes jump in and out of action and a glockenspiel and accordion get some time in the limelight. It's eventful, certainly, but in this little venue it all seems a bit much. The music loses its momentum, and save for the instances when all five microphones are put to good use, the sound is unfortunately loose.

A large part of this is surely due to the extensive touring the band has undertaken in the past couple of months. This latest leg is in support of shows with Mumford & Sons, and although the Englishmen show their support from the crowd, you get the feeling the stage is not the place for these talented Australian folkies right now. There's just too much they're itching to lay down in the studio, and a bit of recording time never hurt anyone.

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