July 29, 2013 by Tess Riley
‘Summertime, and the living is…’ pretty darn awesome. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better place to be during a London heatwave than standing in the blue-skied evening warmth of Somerset House listening to live music, particularly if that music happens to be none other than well-loved US rock group Band of Horses.
Let’s get the one minor downside out the way – the set was too long. I’ve always previously thought that when you’re watching a band you love, you just don’t want their set to end and, yes, I’m often that 5’3 girl right at the front shouting ‘encore’ even when the majority of the crowd has otherwise dispersed. Not this time – the set was great but it became clear that you should always leave the audience wanting a little more.
That aside, the gig was impressive. Tyler Ramsey – otherwise known as lead guitarist – had already done a solo support act set beforehand, as had the spectacular Staves sisters who seem to be everywhere at the moment. Then on came the full Band of Horses five piece and the checked shirt-dominated audience leapt into action, whooping and whistling as the band opened with debut album track ‘Monsters’.
Despite our initial cheers as the as the band arrived, the first few songs were pretty reserved – we listened, they played and that was that. It wasn’t long, however, before the energy levels on stage and off ramped up, particularly when the heavy bass of ‘The Great Salt Lake’ got going. For the rest of the set, lead singer Ben Bridwell put on a particularly impressive performance, sweating and smiling his way enthusiastically to the end. Lots of sweat is always a good sign for a band like this – be wary of its absence.
A few songs stood out. When ‘Is there a Ghost’ began, it was pretty clear this was going to be special – the boys played tight, Bridwell patted his heart as he sang and tall men everywhere hugged and swayed in time. Equally, the harmonies on ‘Mirage Rock’ – a song from the band’s lesser-known ‘Sonic Ranch Sessions EP’ – were a thing of beauty. At one point a few songs later keyboard player and guitarist Ryan Monroe even threw his guitar behind him to be caught by the perfectly timed sound guy waiting in the wings. Special shout out therefore goes to soundman Ryan Snyder whose ability to deal deftly with a flying £1,600 guitar earns him a lot of kudos.
The real highlight of the evening came with ‘Funeral’ and as Somerset House vibrated with sound and the audience reeled out its best ‘oooohs’ it was hard to think it could get better. Then it did, with Creighton Barrett maxing out the drum finish faultlessly.
With only three songs left to play and no encore, it might have been worth stopping right that very second, with the audience hyped and the boys on stage having demonstrated just how exceptional they can be live. Had they just kept their set a bit shorter, we’d all have been left wanting very much more.
This post first appeared on Virgin Red Room here.