Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Drums at Shepherds Bush Empire

The History Of Apple Pie provided a slightly disappointing start to the evening. Lead singer Stephanie Min's voice was barely audible over the thrash of heavy guitars, and I wondered whether this was the desired effect, or simply the product of a faulty mic. Their new single Mallory was actually quite a tuneful, colourful little number on second listening on Youtube and Kelly Owens' background vocals melted into the guitars perfectly, it was just a shame that the full effect wasn't witnessed in their set.

          However, when Cloud Control stepped onto the stage, the evening was immediately turned around. Having seen them support Stornoway at Somerset House back in July, and instantly falling in love, I was excited when I discovered they'd be supporting The Drums. Opening with crowd favourite, Meditation Song #2, the jangly summery pop immediately gripped the audience, and the voices of Alister Wright and Heidi Lenffer merged together beautifully to create the perfect opening to their set. The epicness of the tune was reinforced by the four piece's enthusiasm - Wright's slightly shy but nonetheless infectious grin was humbling, and complemented by Lenffer's exuberant tambourine playing (one of the few people who can make the tambourine seem like the coolest instrument on the earth) the crowd was drawn into their cheery psych-folk.

        My Fear #2 followed with the same gusto and once again Lenffer's delicate backing vocals were a faultless accompaniment to Wright's strong, melodic voice. It wasn't just the music that made it such a brilliant set though. Their onstage banter with the audience made them instantly likable, and dedicating Gold Canary to the bird who the day before had been hit by their bus and 'shattered the windscreen' was a nice touch... The animal lovers then went on to sing said song, and I'm sure the bird would have felt honoured to have such a beautiful, cheery ditty dedicated to him. Despite seeing them live once before, their songs still felt refreshing and with a renewed sense of energy in them, and I can only imagine that their headlining gigs are of an even higher calibre.

With the exhilarating What You Were from The Drums' second album, Portamento, their set opened with an animated Johnny Pierce bouncing around the stage singing 'I gave you my heart' much to the delight of several screaming girls in the audience. As with most of The Drums' songs, What You Were's catchy hooks and danceable nature encouraged the crowd to loosen up, and livened the slightly gloomy atmosphere after a long wait for the band to take to the stage. Both Best Friend and Me And The Moon from their eponymous debut album gave Pierce a chance to showcase his latest dance moves - something resembling the robot and lots of prancing amongst them.

             The more haunting If He Likes It Let Him Do It was a contrast to the upbeat tempo of Me And The Moon, and the dark bass line beautifully intertwined with Pierce's soaring vocals. However the hidden gem of the song was Jacob Graham in the background fiddling with buttons and knobs. I'm not usually a synths fan, but the gentle underlying drone beautifully tied in with the slightly macabre tone of the melody.

            Down By The Water brought a calming melancholy to the evening, and gave Pierce a chance to show his gentler vocals, casting enraptured silence over the audience. On the livelier songs, where the crowd had joined in singing (and for the most part quite bad singing - particularly the wailing teenagers next to me!), they now stood mesmerised by Pierce's more laidback approach to the song, and he even stopped with the dancing for a moment, which helped the audienceto just focus on the sheer power of his voice.

            Despite a dramatic change in the lineup of the band over the summer, The Drums have proved that they deserve all the success that has come to them so far. The lack of Let's Go Surfing in the evening wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as their concern that they don't want to be known just for that one song is understandable. With two stunning albums under the belt, it's now just a waiting game to see what album number three has in store for us - and my guesses are, it's going to be a good one!


  1. so so jealous - love the drums! haven't heard of cloud control but will defo look them up!

  2. i have just fallen in love with your blog! You have THE best music taste haha! I will marry Ben Howard one day...

    Satin&Souffles xx

  3. ah thank you, that's so sweet of you!

  4. Lovely blog.

  5. what a great review! they always bring it :)
    I will be seeing them in Perth not too long now!!

    You have great writing skills girl.

    from http://raisedbythewolves.blogspot.com/


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