Review by Ross Cotton for Brumlive
As the day draws to an end with the heat still beckoning, the night ahead was prepared with an enticing line up of acoustic, soothing harmonies, to echo around a cooling Hare & Hounds.
First to grace the stage, Rich Batsford brings his wispy, lounge and almost lullaby piano talent. His traditional, lo-fi sound provided the perfect start to a chilled evening, almost cooling us down from the humid weather that had been heavily transfixed. ‘Completion’ saw a gentle sway amongst the crowd, as Batsford’s words began to assemble into a romanticised, sophisticated blur, of torn apart love.
With candlelit tables, it was clear that the audience were in for a relaxing night. Forest Fire were next to follow Batsford’s lead. Mark Thresher’s bohemian-like vocals gave an almighty and natural feel to the band, developing a warmth that could only otherwise be achieved through a summer glow. Mixing acoustic and electro, Forest Fire were able to blend folk, indie, blues and country music to accompany Thresher’s vocals like a cooling breeze. The slow-beat sway accounted to an emotional and thoughtful experience that was evident from the beginning.
By this stage, the crowd had delved into a whimsical state, just in time for Phosphorescent to reveal their down to Earth, atmospheric hums. As we enter the Texan sounding ‘Los Angeles’, the emotional and realistic effect is sustained.
‘I’m closing my eyes until the colours appear’, sings Matthew Houck. As though he wants everything to change for the better, and we believe him. A hard hitting implication which has only previously been achieved by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.
While Jesse Anderson Ainslie surprises us with tear-jerking, guitar solos, made to fit the whole experience with a sense of fragility. It’s easy to see how the actuality gains reliance from the crowd, as simple sways match an alluring, sweet and gentle lap steel echoing sound.
Beautifying the band into a familiar Joanna Newsom’s ‘This Side of the Blue’. The Americana roots style is certainly upon us, but in a way that gets a British audience through that hard, long day.
‘I don’t care if it hurts me’ sings Houck.