Last night was a first in a long time for me, I approached a gig without knowing anthing about the band or their material. I had a vision of them being an acoustic ensemble along the lines of Bombay Bicycle Club, boy was I in for a surprise. Upon entering the venue around 15 minutes after the doors opened, there were already people huddled around the barrier and about half way back into the small room. It was one of those moments where you can sense something special is building up.
Supports were from Goodnight Lenin, local act who had a right visual mix of the Bluetones, Eels and Stuart Cable era Stereophonics. They warmed the crowd up elegantly and by the end of their set had won over the audience. Next up were the excellent Arcane Roots. Visuals of current era Biffy Clyro, but the sounds of Biffy from 10 years ago. Totally blew me away as that under an acoustic skyline was unexpected. Both bands deserved of getting checked out.
Running about 15 minutes later than advertised, the lights faded and Dry The River walked on stage to squeals of excitement from the front row and the rest of the sold out venue. Opening with the melodic yet slow-burning jaunt of ‘Shield Your Eyes’, the band seems relaxed and started to get into the performance. Kudos must be given to Will Harvey, man of the background and an incredible violin player. (He had joined Arcane Roots onstage for their last track) Peter Liddle on vocals seemed almost shy to begin with, playing guitar and arched over his mic, it soon became apparent that this is just his way of playing. When he stepped away from the mic he was climbing over the drum kits, jumping and striding around the stage like he owned it. Bass player Scott Miller was the compére for the evening, doing most of the inbetween song banter and turned into a right showman during his performances. Drummer Jon Warren was a troubadour, thunderous drumming throughout. Finally, lead guitarist and local lad Matthew Taylor was one of the least spoken members tonight but pulled in effortless guitar licks and shined in his homecoming performance.
There are so many highlights if I’m honest. The one thing about going to a gig not knowing what to expect is the brutal realisation of either loving or hating what you are hearing. I can easily see shades of the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Elbow and The Frames. On record they are very acoustic and melodic, in a live performance they add up the scuzz and make everything louder. Songs like ‘New Ceremony’, ‘Weights & Measures’ and ‘Bible Belt’ really come to life. My highlight was ‘Lion’s Den’ which closed the main set. The final furlong, the jam out and the vocals mixed with the enigmatic inclusion of the violin reminds me so much of seeing The Frames in Ireland. This song reminds me of ‘Santa Maria’, Dry The River nailed it and blew me away. I could have quite happily seen a much longer show. The enthusiasm from the audience too was something to behold as they disappeared off to the side of stage.
The encore was a very special moment. They returned and announced that they would try and acousic song in the middle of the floor. They made their way down assisted by some security who duly disappeared. ‘Shaker Hymns’ was performed acoustically with the audience slowly joining in. A very special and incredibly intimate rendition. As the song ended they made their way backstage and the show was over. I hadn’t expected to be but it left me a touch emotional. Such an incredible talent. These guys will make it no doubt! If you get chance, go and catch them before they end up supersonic.