Wednesday 15 October 2008

Bodies of Water / Choir of Young Believers - Cargo 14 October 2008

After a long wait in an unusually under populated Cargo, we finally hear the crackle of microphones and a long, low note. Is that a cello?

It is, and it is operated by Cæcilie Trier, who is accompanied tonight by Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, a young man who looks as though he has stepped off the streets of Tombstone, Deadwood, or any other sepia tinged outpost of the Old West. He sports a moustache of a wondrous thickness and luxuriance, far removed from the scraps of bum fluff that often dirty the top lips of today’s serious young men.

Together, the pair comprise the touring version of Denmark’s Choir Of Young Believers and for the next half an hour or so, they are magical.

The obvious point of reference is the works of Fleet Foxes, because Jannis possesses an absolutely crystal pure voice that resonates around the venue and strikes the audience as dumb with awe as if they were in church. His harmonies with Cæcilie are similarly majestic. There may be people in here who are actually breathing, but it doesn’t sound like it.

The songs themselves are deceptively delicate, but louder than you imagine – although the cello underscores everything, Jannis is happy to rock out with shards of electric guitar.

After a wonderful set, I buy their excellent album “This is for the Whites in Your Eyes.” I recommend it wholeheartedly.

I have been looking forward to see Los Angeles’ Bodies Of Water ever since hearing their debut album ‘Ears Will Pop and Eyes Will Blink’. It is a record of such boundless vocal enthusiasm that you can actually HEAR the grins of the singers.

Tonight, the four singer/players are strung across the front of the stage in a line, with a very stoic drummer sat a long way behind them. While all obviously have equal standing, it becomes apparent that keyboard player Meredith and guitarist David are the ones who are calling the shots, in terms of the live performance at least. Bassist Kyle confines himself to the occasional joke, many of which lose themselves somewhere between LA and Shoreditch. Describing a show in Leeds as ‘Dickensian’ is funny though.

Meredith is clothed in a black leotard and eyes us from beneath her fringe. Throughout the show she has a running dialogue with the sound crew, wanting a little more of this, a little less of that, then reversing the instructions and so on. That she can make this seem like good natured banter rather than prima donna behaviour is testament to her communication skills.

The default Bodies Of Water sound is four voices at full bawl over a tricksy, almost prog rock backing. It is like a regular rock band with four coincidentally overlapping lead singers who create harmony by happenstance. The results are not at all precious or twee – the power that is generated does indeed make your ears pop.

Tonight, the set is almost entirely draw from the next album. It is a mark of how damn good these songs are that unfamiliarity does not hamper enjoyment in the slightest.

Meredith does not cry wolf. Although there appears to be nothing wrong from the audience point of view, there definitely are sound issues on stage and eventually David’s guitar packs up and a degree of improvisation is required while it is repaired.

They end with a stunning (almost literally) rendition of ‘These Are The Eyes’, a song that builds and builds, with ever wilder vocal contributions from the band. Every time you think they can’t go faster, higher, wilder or louder, they go up a gear.

Two bands tonight, two completely different vocal styles. And two total successes.

1 comment:

The Daily Growl said...

yeah - it was a fine gig indeed