We are back in Bristol gem St George’s for a Bella Union one-off special of Lanterns On The Lake with chamber ensemble, and Holly Macve.
Bella union boss Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins opens the evening with a Q&A, and ends it with a DJ set. There is an exhibition of Bella Union artwork, and merchandise/record sale.
First up is Holly Macve, born in Galway, living near Holmfirth, Yorkshire, the isolation and ruggedness of these two places comes out in Holly’s writing, if through the lens of the southern states of the US.
I’m far from a Country fan but I could easily listen to Macve; her voice appears too big and well-formed to come from such a young frame. Supported by her low-key band, a guitar or bass, and some brilliantly subtle percussion, I was made to think of Nick Cave, Patsy Kline, and Twin Peaks, which I’ve never actually seen…
Holly released her first album, Golden Eagle earlier this year on the Bella Union label and I may well be purchasing it, John Grant likes her; that’ll do for me.
Lanterns On The Lake have released three albums and this gig coincides with the vinyl release of their 2016 Sage Gateshead recording with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
I don’t know if audience members have made quick changes after buying band T-shirts, or if there are a lot of hardcore fans here tonight, or rather I didn’t until I witnessed the reception, and enthusiastic head-nodding, on show as soon as the 5-piece, supported by a further 5 musicians on strings & brass strike up.
There is a lot going on up on stage, accentuated by the stillness of the performers when not actually playing, it’s quite theatrical and I like it. It’s a bit of a shame that the lighting is so simple, it’s more ‘dentist waiting room’ than gig, and I’m pretty sure that many in the audience would prefer to be standing, but St George’s isn’t that kind of venue.
If you don’t know them already you might be surprised by the size of the sound, if ten people on stage wasn’t enough of a hint; but it’s not just big, it’s deep, and at times it is too big and deep for me – but I’m obviously wrong – the audience are loving it, not even a minor medical emergency and a (successful) marriage proposal can break the mood.
The musicianship is there to be heard, Hazel’s voice is perfect for the music being created behind her, and bearing in mind the guitar sound of Paul Gregory that’s some accolade. It’s a dark indie sound, and to say we’ve heard it all before would be unfair; it is familiar, but perhaps not as multi-layered as this. If their output isn’t gracing all manner of nordic-noir tv for years to come there’s something wrong.
Lanterns on the Lake are:
HAZEL WILDE – Vocals/ Guitar/ Piano
PAUL GREGORY – Guitar/ Production
OL KETTERINGHAM – Drums/ Piano
BOB ALLAN – Bass
ANGELA CHAN – Violin/ Cello/ Viola
All artists Bella Union:
See what’s coming up at St George’s Bristol