Secret Sessions Live Reviews

Paul Bence PhotographyMt.Wolf; Secret Sessions, January 2016

You know those moments to be truly special when all becomes otherworldly. As the layers developed we found ourselves, by the end of the evening, blanketed by an ethereal sonic wall. London based three-piece, Hilang Child, gave us beautiful insulation as support, with echoed dreamy vocals reaching the far crevices of the room. Whilst the electronic accompaniment of the synths and bass guitar enhanced Ed’s expansive vocals that were slight reminiscent of Amber Run.

As the crowds gathered, we thought ourselves prepared for headliners Mt Wolfbut we perhaps didn’t quite expect to be overwhelmed by the enchanting voice of frontman, Bassi. A London based trio of four years, recently undergone a change vocally, though I never knew of them then, having listened to their Soundcloud I feel this new arrangement has no doubt accentuated their sound, and is vocally pleasing to fans of Bon Iver.

It has been a while since I’ve seen two acts create such an expansive, close and polished sequence live. What a way to commence Secret Sessions 2016. The night felt like a careful curation of two bands that complemented each other beautifully as a simultaneous set.

Mt. Wolf gave us a set-list that provided an almost filmic scape where each track married one another effortlessly, a backdrop of which distanced us and ultimately gave us the opportunity to escape to our own world. It was that otherworldliness created through delicate falsetto vocals that was majestic accompaniment to the part electronic part acoustic style.

There was such a wonderful connection within the band, you could see how each of them spoke to one another through their instruments. I was taken on a reflective journey, a thought provoking experience. Though what was communicated lyrically didn’t seem to control my trail of thoughts, it was the movements of the ambience that could take you away to a world of your own, someplace remote. I could hear the lapping of the not so distant waves, and feel the coarseness of the high-grass and heather around me.

Even when the noise of the crowds started up I found myself still far away, distanced and transported elsewhere to this place altogether calming, mediative, and all the while poignant. I think by the end of the night we all felt moved. If ever you needed music therapy for the mind, this is the band to provide you with such serenity. These would be a treasure to have in session for Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6 Music show, not least be shared with us listeners for an otherworldly ‘headphones moment’.

(Image: Mt.Wolf, Secret Sessions 19/01/16).

Words by Rachael Crabtree

(Also published on Secret Sessions)


Roo Panes; Lucy Panes

Roo Panes; Secret Sessions, November 2015

“It’s upstairs……on level three…”.

….We took a quick right out of the lift, already late and stepping into a bar where a large gathering stood. Excusing our ridiculously hurried passing, I caught only a glimpse of the man that stood aside. It was his shoes that I later connected to the man who took to the stage. Despite being late, to much delight, we had missed nothing.

Perhaps we were alone in thinking the Folk-Rock Aussies, Boy and Bear, were the only act of the night, so when the host introduced us to a first act; a singer-songwriter with hopes and dreams and a guitar strapped to his back, the not so ‘Secret Session’ gig took a very interesting turn for us.

A very unassuming, humble chap, Roo Panes treated us to a solo performance, which displayed his strength of voice. Beguiling romantic poetry was delivered to a room of a silent and awed audience. “Thank you for being so quiet” Roo addressed us softly, “no, truly, it’s really lovely”.

It really makes it when the audience are attentive, but it must in no doubt accentuate the pressure, especially when there is no band to be lost to. Although we could all see how natural the songs were suited to an solo-acoustic setting. In character, charismatic, and musically, a pensive wordsmith with a real mythological warmth about him, and wholly deserving of a longer set.

When listening to his music you will discover that you cannot help but find yourself studying the beauty in even the very simplest and smallest of things, at the point of performing ‘Indigo Home’ I remember noticing the indigo lights from above paying his complements. There was an earthy connection in between songs, when introducing ‘Ran Before the Storm’, we were told that it was when he “was in a really bad mood.. and went on a very long walk up the hill..during a storm…but there’s some metaphors in there as well”.

Roo drew to a close with his new single: ‘The Original’ which was a beautiful insight into what to expect from upcoming album ‘Paperweights’, released on February 12th 2016.

I may be late to discover Roo Panes, but, as the night revealed, it is better to be late than never.

(Image; ‘Paperweights’ album artwork by Illustrator, Lucy Panes).

Words by Rachael Crabtree


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