Words by: Harry Ward
Photos by: Annette Geneva
It’s been just over one month since the release of Band of Horses’ wonderfully crafted fifth studio album Why Are You OK, and the South Carolina outfit are already hitting Aussie stages with the new goods. Last night, Band of Horses graced the Sydney Opera House with a one-of-a-kind performance.
The night began with The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard performing both solo and The Drones’ songs as MK-Ultra (the name is well worth a research). Not previously identifying myself as a fan of The Drones, I must admit, I was compelled to give them a spin after MK-Ultra’s time on stage. The guitar work is brilliantly ridiculous and full of character and disobedience of technique that it becomes quite mesmerising. The set finished with Jezebel, a certified belter.
Australia is somewhat of a guinea pig for the the rather massive tour that is to come for Band of Horses (which won’t end until March 2017), and unfortunately, the show took a bizarre turn from the first note, when singer, Ben Bridwell, experienced some difficulties in the ol’ vocal department.
The show kicked off to the anthemic tune of The Great Salt Lake with pristine stadium-guitar sounds. The distraction of Bridwell’s vocal hiccups soon crept in and both crowd and band became aware that Sydney was in for a unique experience.
There is no doubt that Sydney Opera House is an intimidating and revealing venue for any artist to play, and the room is far from cooperative when there is some sort of issue with vocals. This may be because the room was designed specifically to amplify vocals of the operatic variety. I do hope the irony of that was not lost on dear Bridwell. But bless his brave country-boy socks, he promised the audience the show that they paid for and he gave it to them! Constant apologies and self pep-talks became the focus of the show, which undoubtedly must be a difficult pitfall to avoid in such a situation.
The highlight was unquestionably the crowd participation. An intimate performance of No One’s Gonna Love You provoked an uplifting singalong from the Sydney fans when Bridwell just couldn’t quite get the notes out, followed by a supportive standing ovation for the emotionally overwhelmed vocalist.
The gig felt more like a stressful rehearsal than anything else, but who can blame them? These things happen, and Band of Horses were lucky enough to be comforted a an extremely understanding Aussie mob.
WHAT THEY SAID:
“This one’s about toppin’ yourself in Japan, just for kicks”
– Gareth Liddiard, MK-Ultra
WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE