Tuesday 4 December 2012

The Raveonettes and Holy Esque at Village Underground - 3 December 2012

Raveonettes pic by Jeff Spirer at The Owl Mag

“Hawoooorgghhh! Awooorrkkkghhh!”

It’s fair to say that Pat Hynes, the singer with Holy Esque has an emotional and unusual delivery.

This music is vast in size - great sweeping paeans of guitar dinning out over the heads of the crowd.  The instruments thrash, the songs build and build and build to an epic chorus and Hynes, unable to hold himself in check any longer lets loose with a “Hawaaaargh!” or “Woooaargh!”

I am of course being facetious. Hynes’ massively over the top style of belting is exactly what these songs need. There are shades of that old Waterboys’ ‘Big Music’, where feelings are turned up to eleven, but in more measured moments, his voice is closer to that of Clap Hands Say Yeah singer Alec Ounsworth (i.e. still pretty distinctive).

Holy Esque are as confident as can be and have the tunes to back themselves. They easily pass the Wyldman test for support bands, which is ‘Does this band feel as if they are headlining in their own right?’ This lot already sound like huge festival favourites.

This is my first trip to Village Underground and I’m really impressed. It appears to be a converted warehouse that was itself created from a courtyard next to some railway tunnels. The stage is extraordinary, managing to be both intimate to the crowd and yet also vast, as the ceiling vaults cathedral-like way above us. It’s a triumph.

There are few niggles with the venue – the toilets are pitifully inadequate and there is a crush to leave at the end of the evening that brings back unwelcome memories of trying to fight your way out of the old London Astoria.

However, that stage space justifies any minor inconvenience.

In an uncertain world, you can always rely on The Raveonettes.

I’m slightly amazed at how long I’ve been going to see them. It’s been just over ten years and in that time Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have just got better and better. They’re not long in the tooth, but they have certainly matured in sound and ability to the point that where what was initially better in idea than execution is now pretty much perfect.

Sune and Sharin share vocals, their harmonies producing a pure Phil Spector chorus that is wedded to huge slabs of spiky guitar and crackling bass. The sound is huge in scope, but the tunes themselves are never lost in the din.

The band are here to promote their attest album ‘Observator’, a set of songs that are slightly more scaled back and delicate than in the recent past. However, the new songs are still capable of pinning you to the back wall when the occasion demands.

New tracks ‘Young and Cold’ and ‘Observations’ sit comfortably alongside old favourites like ‘Dead Sound’ or ‘Aly, Walk With Me’. Sune and Sharin change guitars so often that their roadie almost becomes a fourth member of the group, always presenting or carting an instrument away.

It’s a pleasure to watch a band in supreme control of its powers, doing good work.

This band, this venue, these songs…it’s all just spot on.

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