You always get a good show with Band of Horses; I should know as I’ve seen them four times now, and maybe that was the problem tonight, because whilst the band were great, full committed and passionate, the gig didn’t quite meet my expectations.
Those expectations were sky high once I learned that support for the gig was Israel Nash, an artist I’ve long admired (and seen once previously). The first slight disappointment of the night was that Nash was performing only with a pedal steel guitarist as accompaniment, whereas I’d anticipated a full band show. Indeed, I’d eulogised to my friends who were also in attendance about the band performance I’d witnessed last summer, which had been truly mind-blowing. Advertising / promotional material really ought to be clearer on such matters. Nevertheless, Nash was excellent and he still managed to transport me elsewhere through the power and intensity of his vocal performance during ‘Rexanimarum,’ ‘LA Lately’ and others.
My suspicion is that Band of Horses’ set was somewhat curtailed by virtue of the O2’s early curfew on club night. What is certainly the case is that there was no time for an encore and the band simply ploughed through a set that, as usual, encompassed their entire back catalogue of studio albums and which climaxed, again as usual, with rousing renditions of ‘Ghost In My House’ and ‘Funeral.’
I have no complaints about the quality of the band’s performance; none at all. They always give 100%. Tonight though, for me, there was something anti-climactic about the whole thing. The near-full crowd were not quite as enthused as the last time the band played here in 2015 (I think), and the atmosphere, whilst by no means flat, was not fizzing with the usual excitement that accompanies a Band of Horses performance. Again, perhaps it’s more to do with the fact that I’ve seen the band many times previously; last time a large model horse was being passed around the crowd at Hilvarenbeek’s Best Kept Secret Festival, with members of the audience attempting to crowd surf off its back before the poor beast was humorously led away by security. That invited great band/crowd interplay of a sort that was missing tonight.
Maybe what’s needed is a change to the set order. For those of us familiar with the band’s live show it can begin to seem a little ‘samey.’ I’d vote for the inclusion of an a cappella version of ‘Evening Kitchen’ as an encore for example, with one of the two classic singles placed mid-set to up the ante a little.
Those experiencing Band of Horses live for the first time tonight no doubt will have enjoyed this gig far more than I. For me it was like experiencing the performance of an experienced nag rather than one of a thoroughbred colt.
Photographer – Adam Kennedy
I started NE:MM as a magazine back in August 2013 and took it online in March 2014. I have always had a passion for music, and a desire to help popularise music of the type I loved. That led me to promote as 'The Outsider' and 'Common People' until recently and who knows, the promoter bug may bite again soon. As I age I find my own tastes developing and so my enthusiasm now extends to classical, jazz/funk and metal, whereas it used to sit squarely in the pop/indie/folk box. I hope it's infectious and through the efforts of the many volunteer contributors to NE:MM I hope it helps you find new music that you can feel passionate about too.