A couple of weeks ago now I traipsed up to London to see one of my all time favourite bands, Death Cab, on one of their rare jaunts over to the UK. You may be wondering why I use the verb 'traipsed' in that sentence - that doesn't sound like a particularly enthusiastic mode of movement for someone on the way to see one of her favourite bands. The thing was, I had been at a friend's rather large 18th bash the preceding night (complete with free ice cream van and photobooth, yeah, I KNOW!) so, come mid-afternoon on the day of the gig I was still not feeling particularly enthused by the thought of moving from my comfortable position on the sofa watching the first series of Skins from start to finish, even if it was to see Death Cab.
Anyway, in the end it was well worth the effort of leaving my nest. Since we had left leaving my house till as late as was possible without actually missing the gig we didn't exactly have prime positions - we were very much at the back of the O2 academy - with the 'swayers' as opposed to the actual dancers. Which, though a shame, at that point in time suited me well enough. (However, this poor position has meant that my photos aren't as SUPER AWESOME as they usually are in gig posts... soz about that).
Since they're a well established band with seven (I think?) albums under their belts I was intrigued as to which songs would make the cut for their set. One of the nicest things about this gig, in my view, was that they didn't neglect their older albums in order to play their newest release, Codes & Keys, in full, like some sort of advertisement. Of course a good few songs from the new LP were played - the single 'You Are a Tourist', the remarkably cheerful 'Stay Young, Go Dancing' and the title track included amongst others - but plenty of songs from the other 6 albums were played too.
They started with 'I Will Possess Your Heart' (if you don't know it GO LISTEN TO IT HERE) from 'Narrow Stairs', with its brooding 5 minute intro - an epic start by anyone's standards. I was particularly happy to hear 'Photobooth', from the Forbidden Love EP, since that was the first song by of theirs I ever heard, and of course 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark' was a stand-out moment, with Ben Gibbard left alone on stage with only his acoustic guitar for comp'ny (the cynic in me raised my eyebrows at the sudden intensification of the crowd's whooping, there must've been a fair few people there for whom this was the only familiar song - don't get me wrong, I love it too, but it does bug me when people neglect the rest of a great band's 'oeuvre' just because of one famous track). Ben even made a quip about vampires before launching into 'Meet me on the Equinox', a song they wrote for one of the Twilight movies - a track which I must say I enjoyed a lot more live than I ever did before, I'd always thought it was a little weaker than their actual album material. But meh.
Anywho, the final moment I'll focus on is the final song they played, Transatlanticism. Blimey that was a good way to finish. Slow-burning build-ups are definitely what this band do best, so bookmarking the set with two of these was a good choice.
Here it is. Hangover forgotten, ears still slightly ringing, I was somewhat dazed leaving the venue... It was a pretty magical way to finish the evening.
Needless to say I left the house at 11:30 PM last Thursday with two equally Potter obsessed chums to go to a midnight screening of the end of my childhood. Scars and glasses drawn on, wands at the ready. Oh, what a night.
So the new(ish) Bon Iver album has already made itself comfortable in my list of favourite albums of the year/possibly ever.
As a casual scan of any review will tell you, it's a very different record from 'For Emma...', which, as I'm sure you all know, he wrote holed up in a cabin in the woods after a bad break up. It was a beautifully sparse, folky affair, but this self titled follow up is bigger; much bigger - for evidence just try the final track Beth/Rest, which is unashamedly 80s... an epic. Overall, percussion is more prominent, and one of the most obvious differences is the new inclusion of a far wider variety of instruments - listen out for sweeping string lines (Towers), electric distortion and plenty of brass (check out those cheeky saxophones in Minnesota, WI).
But, the one thing that hasn't changed is that voice. There's something so unique and instantly recognizable about Justin Vernon's falsetto vocals, along with the way he layers them up with those shimmering harmonies. The way he can convey emotion through his voice alone surpasses, I reckon, the majority of artists today who are attempting to do the same thing. Even his diction in pronouncing certain words seems to hold some sort of power.
So, in a word, it's magical. Please do watch this:
What I love most about this video of one of my favourite tracks on the album, Holocene, is that is showcases that amazing sense of this album being a group effort. This isn't just Vernon's game any more, it's all of theirs. Another thing that this live performance highlights is something that I mentioned earlier - the new orchestral feel Bon Iver have employed is clear; just watch/listen to 3:37 onwards - it sounds like a chamber orchestra tuning up for a performance. Also, if you watch carefully you'll see many of the band picking up multiple different instruments throughout the track, along with singing harmonies, shaking shakers, et al. This level of musicianship, I dig... But I suppose since I'm a musician myself this might be a selling point for me a little more than for some others. Still. Amazing, magical, beautiful.
Helloo, I'm back from Portugal. I had a pretty much perfect week... Such a good way to celebrate the end of exams. It basically consisted of swimming, sunbathing, reading, eating, sleeping, drinking, dancing. I haven't gone to bed before 4 am all week, though, so getting to sleep last night after I'd got home was a bit of a challenge... And home feels VERY quiet after spending a week with 9 loud gals. We had such a laugh. Of course all my friends returned to England wonderfully brown from the sunshine, but I, true to form as an 'English Rose' (blah blah blah), am as pale as the day I left. Oh, I lie.... I managed to burn a little bit. I was slathered in factor 30 all week, buuuuut guess where I didn't think of sun-creaming? My parting... Serves me right for wearing my hair in a centre parting I suppose.... So my scalp got burnt. GOOD TIMES!!
This song feels appropriate:
I also listened to the new Bon Iver album A LOT. I will do a proper post on that soon..