If the departure of Tim Smith prior to 2013’s ‘Anitiphon’ made Midlake a
more anodyne proposition on record,
tonight’s show proves that live, the band are still the fiery, enveloping,
organically musical experience they always have been. Early on,
‘Antiphon’ is suffused with Fleet Foxes-esque harmonies. Here are a bunch of nice, hairy blokes in plaid shirts, playing beautifully crafted if straightforward rock music in a fine venue; Midlake Shepherd’s Bush Empire what more can we ask for?
Well, we could ask for Gaz Coombes actually, and tonight we get him,
although I don’t think anyone was asking for or expecting that.
As one of Britpop’s most venerated elder statesmen joins the band on stage
for ‘Young Bride’, Midlake Shepherd’s Bush Empire Midlake pour forth mature rock’n’roll at its most worthily accomplished.
Then out comes the twelve-string for ‘We Gathered In Spring’, and the music rises and swells in crescendos, a flood of oceanic noise.
Just before the inevitably psychedelic wigouts of the encore, ‘The Old And the Young’’s shuffling rhythm and haunting organ close out a show,
which was as heartfelt and emotional for the band as it was for their audience.
Richard Skelton & the
Walking down a pitch black path in the middle of nowhere under a sea of
glistening stars and into a candlelight 12th century monastery fills tonight’s
performance with an aura of wonderment before its even begun.
Yet as soon as his bow strokes the strings (of what looks to be a sort of
extended, customised mandolin) an instant, permeating presence oozes
Broken into three separate pieces (the middle one sans Skelton) the first is a woozy, restrained yet gliding performance, with Skelton’s delicate,
sustained emanations dipping, weaving and congealing with the Quartet.
The final piece is a scratchy, dramatic, almost violent, very cinematic performance that takes Skelton hurtling into previously unexplored territory.
The control of the finish is sublime and the last fading sound is the unmistakable, string wobble of Richard Skelton.
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