Jun 1, 2008

Dead Letter Chorus @ The Vanguard

A good live band will always bring a certain joy to every performance. An undeniable enthusiasm to every show. As if each and every night means something. That each show is important and meant to entertain. No going through the motions, no wishing that another place would be a better place to be. Dead Letter Chorus epitomise this. Each time I have seen them live, they have always played with unbridled enthusiasm, genuine pleasure and dare I say it, happiness. Which I am sure must win them new fans at each show. Oh, it doesn't hurt either that they write very good songs or that they feature two excellent vocalists or that they are now a band of considerable strength.

Saturday night at the warm and intimate Vanguard was their first headline show at the Newtown venue. It was also the first time I have heard them perform a number of new songs. Songs that look set to be included on their upcoming debut album. I can report that the new songs sound great. It looks like the band has taken a step forward with their songwriting, building on the promise shown on their 2007 EP. These new songs show even greater aptitude for writing melody and have added a new layer of depth. In fact the set was a great blend of old and new. "Wait All Night" and "Sally in Red" were played from the EP, whilst songs like "11th Dream About Planes" and "Magnolia Farm" were real show stoppers. Let's hope these songs make it the new album. "11th Dream" has actually become a centre piece, its epic nature proving impressive and irresistible. The band actually do the epic thing very well. Quite a few of the songs are stretched and pulled with impressive results. This is very evident in the closer "Fathers & Daughters", a song becoming a personal favourite of mine in the band's repertoire. By my count, there were seven songs that I heard for the first time. They were all very enjoyable and rewarding, a good sign upon the first listen. I grabbed a set list and going on the short hand, my favourites were "Hearts" and "Bother". Also impressive was an acoustic number Cameron Potts performed solo in the encore. It seemed very personal and true and was a glowing example of Cam's growing stature as a vocalist. His voice has always had the requisite power and passion to win any casual fan over, but there is no doubt that it has taken on a greater depth and maturity in the year since I first saw the band play. Of course, Gabrielle Huber's voice is also a major ingredient of the band. Distinctive and full of character, she never misses a note. She also switches from keyboards to acoustic and electric guitar with consummate ease. As mentioned the band functions smoothly and gracefully as a very solid unit. Now seeming to number five, the rhythm section of Lee Carey and Andrew Rose are very tight and play with abundant authority, whilst Michael Faber plays guitar with subtlety and considerable skill. If I can be sure of one thing, a night out with Dead Letter Chorus is guaranteed to be fun, pleasurable and very rewarding. Their blend of rock, country and folk is honest and authentic and sure to please if you catch them live.

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