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Review - Dry The River at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Posted: 06/11/2012 18:20

When it comes to musical appreciation I wouldn't exactly call myself a virtuoso.

As much as I love new bands, I still find that the most played tracks in my iTunes library are from albums like Joni Mitchell's Blue, Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out and The Smith's The Queen is Dead...

My dad played a big part in my musical education.

So since I flew the nest back in 2006, I've looked for artists who exhibit the same traits as these cherished artists of old. Kings of Leon, Mystery Jets, Tegan and Sara, The Drums, Alt-J, Haim, Django Django are just a select few of the bands I've grown to love.

Their greatness enhanced by the ability to achieve what I call the musical trifecta.

The voice. The melody. The lyrics.

But after seeing Dry The River headline their first show at Shepherd's Bush Empire I've come to realise I've underestimated a crucial factor...the performance.

From the upper echelons of the West London venue, I overlooked a jam-packed audience nodding their heads in unison as the five-piece band opened with the hypnotically folksy beat of 'Shield Your Eyes'.

Moving into 'New Ceremony' followed by 'History Book', the band played more like an orchestra with the addition of a brass section that amped up the softer songs to give a more anthem-like feel.

Most obvious to see, or rather hear, was that Dry The River easily boasted 'the voice' element of my checklist.

Lead singer Peter Liddle's vocals is piercingly vulnerable yet powerful enough to cast a silencing spell on the towering room with a stripped back performance of 'Weights & Measures'.

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On this song and throughout, the group's harmonies are beautiful enough to be considered melodies in their own right; with a lullaby quality that helped their lyrics - 'you were the coldest star in the sky/only I couldn't see it I was blind' - painfully resonate throughout the venue.

There were certain instrumental moments when the band seemed to have forgotten the audience was there - Pete and bassist Scott often turned their back on the audience to jam with drummer Jon Warren.

But they drew us back in with light anecdotes in between tracks and loving declarations that this was 'the best show they've ever played yet.'

They played just eight songs, a disappointment at first but the shortness of the set can be forgiven, for the encore that followed was worth five more.

To the audience's delight, Dry The River descended into the crowd to perform a heart-swelling acoustic version of 'Shaker's Hymn'.

With that final song the band broke down the boundary between stage and audience to give a performance that showcased all the unique traits that I truly believe makes a great band.

I look forward to even greater times to come.

 

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