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Since I have only recently procured – and promptly fallen in love with – this London-based (by way of Scotland and France) foursome’s excellent self-titled debut album, I regrettably missed their two NYC small club appearances in September at Glasslands Gallery and Pianos. So how did they fare, making the sudden jump to this much larger, 550-capacity venue in so short a time? I’m happy to say, much better than most young bands.
The prime reason for the seamless transition was their razor-sharp playing – all four members rip into their instruments with energetic intensity. Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare play their guitars so fast and furiously, their hands look like hummingbird wings, bringing to mind Bizarro-era Wedding Present. Drummer Patrick Doyle relentlessly pounds down on his spare kit with such abandon, it’s like he’s trying to kill a poisonous snake. And though Marion Herbain (the band’s French connection) barely moved from her spot the entire show, she picks at her bass so hard, you expect carpal tunnel syndrome to set in any minute. Their in-sync attack made LP standouts “Bad Feeling” and “Found Love in a Graveyard”, and especially the new single “My Heart Beats” (one of four excellent new songs they played) bristle with excitement. Best, the band’s trademark boy/girl harmonies were in full force on every song, most notably on “Misery”, which showcased three-way, trade-off vocals from Clifford, Hoare, and Doyle. Finally, their spirited cover of Roky Erickson’s “Starry Eyes” (one of six songs on a limited edition, tour-only covers EP available at the merch table – only 100 pressed, get ‘em while they last!) for the well-earned encore ended the night in fine fashion.
True, the somewhat shy band could use more stage presence, rarely saying much to the audience. But they made up for it by all appearing at the merch table after the show to greet their fans, and did brisk business. Great songs and talent will do that.