At the outset of writing this blog I was conscious of avoiding turning it into a Ryan Adams fan-boy site. I recognise today that I am danger of going the same way with The Head and The Heart so I will keep this entry short for that reason.
On Monday night I had the privilege of seeing them make their debut performance in our green and pleasant land in a small venue in North London. The night itself didn't seem particularly promising as the support bands both exhibited the kind of faux-Mumford and Sons that has become the hallmark of the current folky scene. If the two support bands had been around ten years ago I have no doubt they'd be playing forgettable garage rock and dressing like The Strokes. Here it was a case of grandpa jumpers and 'oh how intense we are' facial expressions. The first band we only caught the end of but they looked and sounded like a bunch of public schoolboys whose guitars were too small for them 'having a go at this band lark.' The second band promised to be a step up but were undermined by their own self delusion. In their minds it was clearly a moving, awe inspiring set to stir the emotions - they were wrong. They were boring. I found myself far more engaged in pointing out attractive members of the audience to my friends like a Sky Sports night on the town. The saving grace was their lead singer looking vaguely like a fresh faced handsome Johann Cruyff which at least provided something worthy of comment. So after a lot of shoe gazing and a surprisingly good final song the support shuffled off.
It is a rare occasion that an artist I have grown to love are still at the level of setting up their own equipment. The band themselves do not look particularly remarkable, yet once they started their charisma was undeniable. The atmosphere in the room changed dramatically and the 'pin drop' effect took over. I sensed a genuine sense of wonder from the crowd which perhaps concerned the band who's effort to instigate melodic clapping fell flat as people appeared just too engrossed in the music to become reactive. We were admiring a show with no intention to form part of it, but even this changed as the gig progressed and a deeper connection was made. The biggest initial difference between TH&TH compared to their warm up acts was a sense of joy. It was like a revelation that it was okay, and positively encouraged, to smile and enjoy the music. Each of the three vocalists have gorgeous and contrasting delivery; incidentally I would dearly like to see Charity given more opportunity to take the lead as so far her unique delivery is underused. I'm not going to list the songs played and rate them individually as you can listen to their existing tracks yourself and make your mind up. It is fair to say the Lost in My Mind and Down in the Valley were as incredible as hoped for and goosebumps were sustained for long enough to be medically dubious. However a greater joy was new songs I was hearing for the first time which were as warm and inviting as last year's album which I adore so much. The set was an absolute triumph and it was well worth the uncharacteristic Monday night trek to the big smoke.
I am loathe to tip them for big things for fear of jinxing them as I have many others before (My Vitriol, Kinesis, and Thirteen Senses spring to mind). It might be that the rest of the world don't fall for this band in the way I have but I will always have that night in North London.
A few related links can be found here:
Sound Cloud album preview