Band of Horses - O2 Academy Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Band of Horses - O2 Academy Leeds

by Nathan Fidler Rating: Release Date:

It's beards and lumberjack flannel night at the Leeds O2 Academy tonight, in fact, it's quite surprising this reviewer gained access without having either of these style musts. There are no big cues, no sing-along crowds outside, it's almost as if no one really cares about Band of Horses (though it was bloody freezing so who can blame those smart enough to leave it until the last minute).

Once into the warmth, it's not long before the first support act arrive on stage. A youthful bunch called Goldheart Assembly - yes, with facial hair amongst their ranks - play a small clutch of songs. They're full of cheerful banter and heckle an audience member for singing along. Their multi-instrumentalist indulges his title by bashing away on an old oil drum while the vocal harmonies and varied song structures are warmly received. Most surprising of all about this band though is that their lead guitarist looks about 15-years-old but already has both guitar wizardry and subtlety nailed down. Such a thing shouldn't be possible but it is and makes for a surprisingly good sound.

Next up are Mojave 3, who are actually a five-piece but we'll let them off. Vocal harmonies (as well as the shirts and beards) seem to be a linking theme. Here is a band who have been going for quite some time but haven't really stumbled across anything unique; their songs are lovely but rather plain and a bit overlong at times.

After another change of gear a barrage of images play on the projected backdrop of the stage. Images of the American road and countryside fizz by and we are greeted by Band of Horses. Tonight they are in good spirits. They launch into an amalgamation of their three albums; Infinite Arms being their most recent gets an almost full airing while Cease to Begin tracks such as 'Ode to LRC' and 'Is There a Ghost' get the crowd pumped and singing. They swing from almost perfect lullabies to full-bodied, down-stroking at the drop of a hat. Organist Ryan Monroe gives the band an extra dimension with his vocal harmonies and his ability to play rhythm and lead guitar.

The crowd is satisfied thus far but you know everyone is waiting for one particular song and the trio of songs for the encore is a magnificent one. An acoustic, hushed version of 'Evening Kitchen' leaves everyone in the audience shiny eyed with wonder. 'No One's Gonna Love You' shows off the writing strength of the band, a real unit, but after all this it boils down to a song from their first album, Everything All the Time, called 'Funeral'. It's the icing on the cake, but it takes a lot to get going. "This is going to be a bitch," front man Ben Bridwell mutters to himself. At first he fumbles the picking but when he pulls it off it's a joy to behold; the band know instantly when to change back and forth between the picking and the heavy chorus.

You wish you could get more from them, but know that this is the end. They bid farewell and travel on. What is clear is that they have a brotherly and harmonious set up with a slowly snowballing fan base. Their smooth alternative American rock proves that a band of horses ain't such a bad thing. Long may their road keep winding.

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