The Fernweh - Headrow House, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Fernweh - Headrow House, Leeds

by charles filtness Rating: Release Date:
The Fernweh, Headrow House, Leeds
The Fernweh, Headrow House, Leeds

The Fernweh's debut album is an instant pleaser.  It's a record soaked in nostalgia and indebted to many influences. essentially a modern day psychedelic folk-rock album in the mould of many of the classics of the genre from late 60's and early 70's.

There are many elements at play; there is an undeniable groove, pounding drums at times but also vocal harmonies, strings, organ, flute, sax and more combining to create something varied and rather special. 

This is the last night of a 3 date tour to promote the album's release.  Seemingly the previous 2 nights have gone well given that they've already sold out of all copies of the album prior to tonight.  Live, as on record, they do not disappoint.  It’s a fantastic show. Front man Ned Crowther tells us that the band's inception was some years ago now whilst playing Glastonbury festival as Candie Payne's backing band, musing post-performance in a field somewhere that there "must be more to life than this". Consequently founding members Ned (bass/vocals), Jamie Backhouse (guitar) and Austin Murphy (keys/sax/guitar) embarked on a project informed by their love of 70's folk "but not the sort played on a ukulele and used to soundtrack a John Lewis advert". Let that be clear!

Over the past 3 years, they expanded into the 5 piece on stage.  In all honesty, they rock tonight, they get people moving at any rate. Played live there are less of the more contemplative or whimsical moments of the record in evidence but that's hardly surprising. If the album was recorded over an extended period then one assumes they were fairly meticulous in crafting those more delicate sounds. Not as easy to deliver on stage in one take.  They are an impressively tight band nonetheless, Phil Murphy is fantastic on drums, Austin simultaneously plays keyboard and saxophone on the track ‘Dressing Up Box’ which is impressive to say the least.   A flute is also present played by Maja Agnevik. It’s probably most effective on a mid-set Bert Jansch cover in which the band are joined by support act Lee Southall.  It starts a little uncertainty with vocals shared between Lee and Ned reading the lyrics from a sheet. But the song builds into an almost stomping instrumental piece by the end with the flute taking over as the focus. It's one of the highlights.  Maja also sings and plays tambourine intermittently which is such a simple addition but so effective, infectious even.  

With the album sure to gain momentum and more accolades over the coming months, this would seem to be the start of the next stage of their continued ascent. Undoubtedly coming to a festival stage somewhere near you next summer.

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