The Besnard Lakes / Wolf People / Mr Bones and the Dreamers
The Hare and Hounds
Birmingham Promoters are vast making themselves a name in the Midlands as a company able to produce when it comes to bringing music to the Birmingham scene. Tonight, sporting a line up that consists of Canadians, cockneys and some good old local talent in the form of Mr Bones and the Dreamers, the evening was packed full of surprises.
A seven piece folk/Americana group, the Midlands representatives present a formidable and somewhat confusing sight on stage as their mixture of styles and lack of cohesion leave the audience unsure of what is about to transpire.
After a visibly nervous and shaky start that included some trembling vocals from lead singer Keiran, the band soon found their feet and pulled off a mature performance. Having put the initial nerves behind him the lead singer, whose voice is a strange mixture of Editors lead singer Tom Smith and Harry McVeigh from White Lies, went on to give one of the most emotional performances I have seen for a long while. Often sitting or kneeling at the front of the stage looking like a broken man, he captured perfectly a balance of the necessary stage man appeal and endearing shyness that drew the crowd into the performance. His on stage plight often emphasised by the haunting beauty of the accompanying violin eloquently performed by Anna, resulting in rare, compelling tenderness and sensitivity. Mr Bones and the Dreamers manage to redefine what folk is and what it is to become.
What the name lacks in presence the performance made up in bundles as Wolf People light up the dreary Tuesday skies of Birmingham. Undoubtedly the stars of the evening, their polished performance is indicative of their years together honing their craft. Lead singer Jack Sharpe’s voice is faultless, as is much of the performance. Whilst Sharpe takes most of the focus, the rest of the band’s infectious enthusiasm and interaction with the crowd appeals to their long serving fans and is gaining them a few more in the process.
Rich in guitar riffs and bluesy influence, the Wolf boys 60’s psychedelic sound interspersed with some contemporary references makes a refreshing change to the seemingly symmetric, factory produced music that pollutes the industry today. Wolf People’s nod to the past is the key to their future success.
The main event for the evening, The Besnard Lakes, are the furthest travellers to the little slice of heaven that is the Hare and Hounds. Hailing from Canada, they are the result of the collaboration of husband and wife team of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. A combination of elements borrowed from differing musical facets form the foundations of the Lakes’ music, meaning that one can never attribute The Besnard Lakes to belonging to any particular persuasion of music. This adds to their affinity for songs over the five minute mark, translates poorly into live performances, as the constant barrage of moody intro’s and reliance on technology leave the band exposed and the audience awkwardly shifting feet awaiting the beginning of the song. The heavy dependence on Lasek’s often shrill vocals is at times infuriating especially when you get glimpses of how talented this band can be with tracks like “Chicago Train”. Even this ray of light is plighted though by an unnecessary flute intro that is out of sync and difficult to hear.
The success of the evening lies firmly with Mr Bones and the Dreamers and most definitely with Wolf People who are certain to have big things ahead.