It’s all about that thing. The three bands at tonight’s show with our closest allies AU all have their own way of doing things, the essence that defines them. For Cloud Castle Lake it’s all about the big music. When we saw them last month at HWCH they suffered from a black hole of a venue but the warmer atmosphere of the Mercantile suits them a lot better. As with the headliners there’s a definite Marmite effect (especially in the vocal department) and they still need to work on their stage craft but what tonight does do is suggest that Cloud Castle Lake have one hell of a record in them. The rest will undoubtedly follow.
With the stage suddenly filled with cellos, percussion, mandolin, keyboards and brass we are clearly heading in a different direction next as the Lowly Knights arrive back at the Mercantile for the second time in a few weeks. The loss of Jonathon’s voice does put them on the back foot somewhat but they rally and put on a fine show. Certain musical comparisons are unavoidable but they have enough of their own character to shine through and they leave us vowing to see a fully powered show asap, with next month’s date at the Trinity Chapel already looking like a must.
Finally then to Grand Pocket Orchestra, the band with the most identifiable thing of all. On the surface they’re something of a mess – instruments, melodies and vocals seemingly colliding at will – but there is a method to their madness. Songs do emerge from the jumble and the expanded line up now does them justice live. Like Fight Like Apes, they walk the thin line between controlled chaos and musical anarchy, bounding across it on more than one occasion to teeter on the edge before bringing it back. They’ll need to take the progress they’ve made so far and keep pushing themselves to avoid getting stuck in some cult ghetto, but for now GPO are a refreshing -if off kilter – breath of air.
Photos: Damien McGlynn.