There is something instantly warming once inside the Shacklewell Arms; dimly lit narrow passageways, bordering on the dingy, leading to an intimate cave. But tonight, as I arrive, there is a lingering sinking feeling that things have already kicked off and dissolved before me. Thankfully, things are running a little late and with much relief (to the equally un-pedantic me) Mauno emerge from the glowing cave of a stage. Everyone quietens, becoming very quickly absorbed by the expansive sounds, inviting a flood of people from the adjoining rooms. Mauno, with the psychedelic-pop of Grizzly Bear and the dreamy trippyness of Real Estate/Ducktails, translate from record to live, just as you hope; loose jangly guitar riffs, instrumentally poppy experimentalism, with lyricism that marries melodically and doesn’t in the slightest matter as to what is being sung, because you’re so far into the rhythm.
“Shall we play the next track” questions frontman, Nick, wryly smiling into our eager eyes. They have such an established sound, especially for a band having only formed a little over a year ago. Their euphoric debut: ‘Rough Master’ was released last month (23/09/16) on Tin Angel Records, UK. As their set continues, we learn that this is their first time to play London in succession of their first European tour with tonight’s headliners. Between them their off the cuff dry humour has us smiling; we’re encouraged to bring along picnics and blankets where Roman-style grape feeding will be involved at tomorrow’s second London gig, The Dentist, Chatsworth Rd.
The rough and ready edge of the not so smooth cable change allows opportunity of a story from Evening Hymns. Warmly abreast to one another the poignancy is tangible and beautiful. The band have a way of seeping into your conscious; a thought-provoking, moving quality, controlling your afterthoughts post-gig.
As it happens, Jonas says, these songs now seem strange to sing, they were almost a predicament of the future. Last years album: ‘Quiet Energies’ now re-released in a slower alternative format, is at it’s most relevant raw state, due to the recent separation of his longterm partner. Tonight, this is more showing than telling; the songs feel very unprotected and Jonas is evermore the vulnerable singer-songwriter unconsciously inviting a closer bond with us. Navigating between songs the loss of his father, coping with bereavement, to his Trucker livelihood and their current ‘on the road’ tales reach a beyond the surface song sensitivity and realness.
Having set out with a good feeling about tonights recommended gig to two very different, engaging Canadian bands; a jangly, upbeat four-piece, Mauno and a pensive folk outfit, Evening Hymns, I walked away emotionally heightened for all the right reasons.
Writer: Rachael Crabtree: @eccentric_eejit