"Well, hello there, you beautiful bastards, how are you?" greeted Ben Bridwell as he took to the stage at the O2 Academy, like he'd entered a bar full of familiar faces. And so the smooth Seattle Southern-rockers began, wry, unassuming and companionable. The further the gig progressed, the more the Horses' steady trot gathered to an invigorating gallop, before we all rode off into the sunset at the exultant conclusion. Support act, Israel Nash, concluded his set citing how "Good things happen when people come together." I think he meant it in the non-double-entendre, 'collective consciousness' sense. Band Of Horses embody precisely this on stage. After five albums and thirteen years, they still seem as pleased to see us as we are to see them.
You can't quibble over value for money at a Band of Horses gig. They played twenty-two songs - almost one hundred minutes of material, punctuated by little but an occasional, playful, self-effacing quip. Even the manifold instrument changes were done on the fly, whilst meaty behemoth Creighton Barrett remained imperious behind the drumkit and segued rhythmically into the next song without any breathing space. Their no-frills stage presence highlights their musicianship, a bullsh*t-free approach that makes you watch them play, not act. Frontman Ben pogo-es, beams and generates ferocious vocal power. Guitarist and BFG Tyler Ramsey, behind the full-foliage beard, towers tree-like - providing a subtle driving force. Ryan Monroe mans the keyboards like he's been given the controls to the Starship Enterprise and wields a guitar with infectious, schoolboy-ish delight. Creighton Barrett's thunderous, powerhouse flailings are evocative of John Bonham, yet his is also a delicate enormity. Bassist Bill Reynolds is the metronomic band anchor. It seemed like he stood stock still for every second of the set, save the seconds when he walked on and off stage.
That seventeen of the twenty-two songs were from 2010 or before says something about the band's recent history. Six tracks each from "Everything All the Time" and "Cease to Begin", four from "Infinite Arms" and their staple cover of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's "Powderfinger" were probably the best received. The remaining tracks came from 2016's "Why Are You OK", understandably leaving "Mirage Rock" out (an album the band itself has shunned). "Monsters" and "The First Song" eased us in with steady resplendence and slow grandeur, before "NW Apt" ditched restraint. Many up-tempo numbers, with three guitars plus bass on the go, were rockier and fuzzier than in the studio. Ben's glacier-clear vocals could be slightly lost in the mix, but we mostly knew the words and sang along, or blissfully didn't care, bathing in the sonic swell.
Continue reading: Band of Horses - Bristol O2 Academy 21.02.17 Live Review
Recommended Albums... New York garage-rock new-wavers The Strokes are on album number five and Comedown Machine marks a return to form for Julian Casablancas & co. Whilst they may not be trying to replicate the pared down sound of their now-iconic debut This Is It, they have at least re-captured some of that raw energy. With a sound now owing as much to 80s synth bands such as A-Ha and Human League as it does to their beloved garage rock idols.
As a result, The Strokes, circa 2013 finds the band fully rejuvenated and seemingly enjoying themselves. They may struggle to regain the popularity that they enjoyed when the band first emerged but they have at least done themselves proud with Comedown Machine.
Mid-set, alongside Crazy Horse, Neil Young announced that “We’re joining forces up here,” just as Foo Fighter's Dave Grohl and Dan Auerbach graced the stage to collaborate with Young on an adrenaline and feedback fuelled rendition of "Rockin’ in the Free World."
Neil Young, Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters joined Band Of Horses and The Black Keys among others to perform on the Grand Lawn at Central Park in New York City. This was all in aid of the Global Citizen Festival which supports a plethora of charities including World Vision and World Food Program USA.
As well as bands and solo artists, the event held brief speeches between sets from outspoken celebrities such as Selena Gomez and Olivia Wilde of House and TRON:Legacy fame. Dave Grohl seemed to love every second of their performance, lamenting however, that it may be a while before they take to the stage again, saying “We don't have any shows after this. This is where we play as many songs as we can in a short period of time, because, honestly, I don't know when we're gonna do it again”, as reported by Rolling Stone.
Central Park in New York set the stage for a rock triple threat in the shape of Neil Young, The Foo Fighters and The Black Keys, all of whom banded together for a benefit mini-fest, Great Lawn Saturday night, in aid of putting an end to global poverty.
An audience of over 60,000 squeezed into the massive green space in the middle of the Big Apple on Saturday (29th September) night for a five-hour concert, all for free! Well, there was one catch, but it only involved attendees having to register at the website 'The Global Poverty Project,' which looks to find a way to bring an end to extreme financial inequality across the globe. And if inviting 60,000 lucky guests along to the event wasn't enough, the concert was also streamed live online via a number of differing websites.
As well as the big three, which also involved an impromptu stage invasion by Dave Grohl during Neil Young and Crazy Horse's set, the line-up for the day also featured Band Of Horses and 'Wavin' Flag' singer/rapper K'naan. The night didn't lose track of what it stood for though, with celebrities including Selena Gomez and Katie Couric going up on stage between performances to discuss the ongoing financial struggle that is felt the world over.
First of all, how are you enjoying your time in London? What have you been up to?
Man, it's been lovely. We got in yesterday, I just rested a bit, and today we're back on the Promo-Train. Playing songs in parks and taking pictures in front of people who have no idea who we are. You know, just the usual s**t; we're just enjoying it. The weather's just as good as it gets at the moment too.
Continue reading: Band of Horses, Interview September 2012