Brother & Bones at The Talking Heads (27/02/14)

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Thursday night was not what I was expecting at all. A band with ‘bones’ in the title was playing The Talking Heads. I anticipated mosh pits, shouting, and lots of guys wearing eyeliner.

It turned out London-based five piece Brother & Bones were a whole lot more than that. If you’re looking for a band that fits smoothly into the rock category, you’ll be disappointed. They are a square peg made for a round, rock hole. Their music is edgy, different, exciting, and will throw your ‘rock n roll’ cliques back in your face. Sure, during the set there were some all-out rock-out moments. But there were also times when the entire audience watched in stunned silence as lead singer Richard Thomas melted the microphone with a heart-wrenching acoustic rendition of ‘Gold and Silver’. When he finished there was dead silence. Until someone shouted: “SMASHED IT!” from the crowd.

Yes. Yes they did.

And they weren’t the only ones either. The two support acts set the bar high for a great night the minute they got on stage. First up was Southampton based duo Daniel Eagle & Sam Weeks, who grabbed the crowd with their impressive set, including covers from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Dizzee Rascal. It shouldn’t have worked but it really did, and for such a young band they gave an incredibly polished performance.

After several dedications to family members, Eagle & Weeks left the stage to make room for next band Winters Hill. Mainly folk-acoustic with a country twist, it was the diversity of their instruments that really made this band stand out. Gorgeous percussion from Nimrod Taabu on the Cajon accompanied Jack Holmàr’s impressive one-man Wild West show in the corner: he casually swapped between banjo, harmonica and steel-slide throughout the set. And when Max Hoar added his dark, husky voice to the mixture, the band really came alive with a sound that was both haunting and shamelessly nostalgic.

When Brother & Bones finally took to the stage it was clear there were some dedicated fans in the audience. There was a fantastic atmosphere, with everyone singing along to old favourites like ‘For All We Know’, ‘Follow Me Down‘, and newer single ‘To Be Alive‘, taken from an EP which attracted attention from the moment it was released: it reached the Top 10 Albums on the iTunes Rock Charts, placing Brother & Bones alongside the likes of Mumford & Sons and John Mayer.

Fresh from a tour of Europe, the band’s energy on stage was incredible, hurtling from song to song and throwing in new material alongside older favourites. As with any Talking Heads gig there was a seriously eclectic audience, from the one guy rocking out at the front on his own, to the man and wife at the back telling people off for talking. Despite the energy, it did at times feel like the crowd was holding back a bit. Maybe that’s because I was expecting mosh pits. But there wasn’t the abundance of crazy, I-don’t-care dancing that I had anticipated.

Nevertheless, it was an absolutely fantastic night. For me the highlight was ‘Gold and Silver’. Wreathed in smoke and red lights, Richard Thomas silenced an audience that only moments before had been jumping up and down. Now that’s impressive.

If you missed them this time, keep checking their website: they’ve promised to come back to Southampton soon. In the meantime, check out their newest single To Be Alive for a catchy acoustic escape. See you at their next gig.

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