St George’s is buzzing with a mixed audience tonight, lots of the ‘regulars’, but also lots more of a younger crowd; I’m not sure I’ve seen it busier, even on sold-out nights.
We are here to see and hear Lau, a folk band unlike many others; a Scottish/English trio; nothing unusual there, and if you saw the stage for the first half of the set you wouldn’t expect anything other than the pretty standard three blokes with acoustic instruments.
Their purpose tonight is touring Lau’s latest record, Decade, a 10 year retrospective ‘Best of’.
So to that first half of the set then; three men sat with a fiddle (Aidan), a guitar and a voice (Kris), and the Englishman with an accordion (Martin) in front of a black backdrop (St George’s regulars would know this unusual detail hinted at something different) lit by three small lamps in front of them on stage.
The music is as accomplished as you’ll hear, as you might expect from three musicians who take their art seriously and have been working together for at least 13 years, as the set progresses the outstanding accordion work from Martin hints at what this band are capable of, moving off down jazz improv and rock lines before coming back to a folky core.
It’s obvious a lot of the audience here knew exactly what they were coming to hear, the higher than usual number of people wandering around downstairs wearing Lau merch pre-gig is testament to that, and they love what they are hearing. It’s that sort of venue, nobody is very far away from the action so you really do feel like you are getting an intimate gig in your own living room, albeit a living room with some pretty impressive architecture.
If you left during the interval I reckon you’d have felt you heard a great band playing with humour, but those are, if not ten-a-penny, at least not rare. Stick around for the second-half of the set however…
WE LOVE THE NHS – Yes, yes we do.
The black backdrop has gone and revealed are lots more instruments, including the difficult to describe (so I’m not going to try) Morag, more guitars, and lights. Lots of lights, and loop pedals.
The acoustic Lau has gone to be replaced by, well, Lau!
The use of loop pedals and whatever Morag is changes everything; from something you could conceivably hear in your local folk pub we now get almost stadium-folk, and I’m not sure that even exists. It would be unfair to make comparisons because they really don’t do Lau justice but if you think the accomplished musicians that you heard in set one, mixed with a touch of Arcade Fire, and even throw some Radiohead in the mix you’ll not be far wrong.
And the lights, not something we get a lot of at St George’s, but Ben & Tim on lights and sound deserve a special mention, just a great spectacle that never overshadowed but really did add to the musical experience.
Decade is a great record but go and see this band – I will definitely be watching out for future opportunities.
Lau are Kris Drever, Martin Green, and Aidan O’Rourke.
See what else is coming up at St George’s Bristol on their website