The Week of Mixed Gigs – Beach House

I really like Bush Hall. A lovely old hall, replete with cherubs over the stage (shabby chic, the missus called it) a nice bar and a friendly clientele who generally shut up when the band are on. And in London, that’s unusual. So we were fully expecting a nice, pleasant evening watching a band I quite like, with support from a band I’d heard of and was looking forward to seeing. Simples.

Lawrence Arabia, hailing from New Zealand, make perfectly nice West Coast country-rock with the occasional arty wig-out. And they’ve got beards. Plus, they seemed like a thoroughly nice bunch of fellows, something which is not to be underestimated in a support act. We once saw Louis XIV supporting someone or other, and whilst one of my main tenets of this blog is to not be too rude about bands I don’t like, I can only say they were utterly dreadful, and unpleasant to boot. They nearly got bottled off.

So, Lawrence Arabia: Good. Must check their stuff out properly.

Beach House have been one of those bands I’ve admired, and liked, but never really taken to my heart. Sometimes I find that I need to see a band live before their songs start to make sense. And writing this now, a day later, I think that’s just happened. I put on “Teen Dream” on the way to work this morning, and you know what? It sort of made more sense. Their special brand of woozy narco-pop, like listening to Joy Zipper as an acid trip starts taking a bad turn, works surprisingly well onstage.

Victoria Legrand’s vocals, even more strident live than on record, keep a sharp edge to the generally relaxed music, stopping them from descending into a sleepy blur. Alex Scally’s guitar playing is elegant and delicate; sometimes he’s hardly touching the strings. He reminded me of Vini Reilly, which is never a bad comparison.

The set consisted mainly of songs from their recent “Teen Dream” album, with a few oldies thrown in for good measure. Now, I didn’t manage to do my usual set list thing, so I really can’t run through what they played (and this is also due to me not knowing the song titles. Look, I’m forgetful, ok?), but of the night’s highlights: “Silver Soul”, introduced with an ominous “Get a hold of your neighbour”, was magnificent. “Norway”, driven by Victoria and Alex’s twinned voices, was full of yearning. Closer “Take Care” even had people in the crowd dancing, twirling each other in little circles.

And so we all left happy, strolling into the cold dark wastes of Shepherds Bush. I think I’ll be listening to Beach House a while longer yet. Back to Shepherds Bush tonight, for the folk-rock stylings of Midlake. More beards!

MP3: Apple Pie Bed by Lawrence Arabia

MP3: Norway by Beach House

Buy “Teen Dream” (CD/MP3) by Beach House

Buy “Chant Darling” (CD/MP3) by Lawrence Arabia