After not being a massive fan of ‘Scot Pilgrim vs the World’ I was sceptical about The Ramona Flowers [7/10] upcoming performance. Four guys breezed onto the stage so casually that I think many were unsure whether they were there to set up the instruments or to play them. However, as soon as the band kicked off with ‘Vultures’, The Ramona Flowers made it clear that they were definitely meant to be on stage. The band formed two years ago but after successful single releases their first official album ‘Dismantle and Rebuild’ was only released on July 14th by Distiller Records. Having played with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Bastille and Foxes it appears that I’m not the only one who can see a lot of potential for this Bristol foursome.
The only thing more confusing than the band’s name is what genre to put them into. Indie influences combined with electro-rock, dub-step style throbbing bass and occasional whiney pop-punk style vocals makes for an unusual but interesting cocktail of sound. I wouldn’t even completely disagree if you said they reminded you of U2 (you can decide whether that is an insult or not).
Steve Bird’s enviable vocal range went from powerful indie anthems such as ‘Brighter’ to chilling tracks such as a ‘Lust and Lies’ which engulfed the audience and kept everyone desperate to hear what was next. The combination of acoustic guitar with electro sound created a brilliant contrast that filled the room and made it impossible not to dance (or sway if you’re too cool).
The music definitely had an “anthem” feel to it and would definitely be better suited for stadiums, feeling slightly out of place in the small venue. The style of music and lyrics had that Kings of Leon “feel” of being tailored for large audiences at a festival or stadium who would sing back every word. Definitely music to be experienced live.
A fairly placid crowd did nothing to dampen the band’s spirits but unfortunately did ruin the atmosphere of the performance. However it was obvious that the band were still enjoying it and their likeability and humility only made me admire their talent more. As they left the stage it was debatable whether LAMB was about to be outshined by their supporting act.
LAMB [8/10] made the scale of The Ramona Flowers’ genre bending almost laughable as there wasn’t a style of music that didn’t influence the talented duo’s drum’n’bass electronic tracks. Looking angelic in long white dress Lou Rhodes swept onto the stage next to Andy Barlow who was on the decks/mixer, wearing a vest and occasionally swigging from a bottle of beer. Bassist John Horne hobbled on, after hurting his leg the night before, with an instrument that couldn’t really be described as anything other than a giant rain stick. This strange mix of personalities was greeted by an eruption of cheers from the audience who appear to have finally woken up.
Lou began her haunting vocals to the beat of Andy’s dance tracks as John sets to work on his electro double bass (apparently not a rain stick). Such an unusual contrast of styles seems completely illogical, but the sound produced was phenomenal and the crowd reacted accordingly.
Lamb’s new album Backspace Unwind was released 13 October 2014, eighteen years after their formation. Although the band have had a break and solo success it was clear how close they were as they joked and danced around the stage. Even a mid-set glitch with the laptop was laughed off, and onstage response to the audience’s positive heckling just added to the enjoyment of the set as a whole. Entwining older classics such as ‘Little Things’ with new songs such as ‘We Fall in Love’ kept the audience’s attention, although many fans were already singing along to the new tunes.
The music that LAMB produce is more of an experience than a list of individual songs. Effortlessly flowing from track to track with a set list that gently drew you in, and then threw you back out again, LAMB allowed dreamy vocals to be interrupted by an underlying techno beat. Beautiful slower songs were followed by up tempo electronic/dance tracks as Lou’s enchanting voice echoed around the room and flowed through you. Andy’s whooping and punching the air did have a Year 6 school disco feel to it, and became slightly irritating, but the quality of his electronic music made up for it as the layers of sound engulfed the audience, building and building until everyone was moving. The intimate setting added to the atmosphere of the performance although tracks such as ‘In Binary’ wouldn’t be out of place at a Leeds/Reading festival dance tent. Although the songs had the substance to fill a stadium, I felt that the smaller venue allowed them to have their full impact and finishing the encore with the chilling ‘Goreki’ left the audience wanting even more. On the way out I overheard an audience member saying that the band were “breath taking” and after that performance, I would definitely have to agree.