The Handsome Family, Vikesh Kapoor - The Garage, Swansea, 11 May 2014 4

The Handsome Family, Vikesh Kapoor – The Garage, Swansea, 11 May 2014

It was the seductive and beautifully dark country tones of the opening credits to “True Detective” that first brought me to The Handsome Family. Handpicked by HBO, their 2003 song “Far From Any Road” was given a new lease of life. It’s a pairing that melded perfectly with the narrative and characters of the drama.
The Handsome Family18
With a pedigree of 20 plus years, and some 13 albums, the husband and wife team of Rennie (Lyrics) and Brett Sparks (Music) are no strangers to touring the UK, tonight is their third visit to Swansea. It’s my first visit to The Garage, a venue that is perhaps one of Wales’s best kept secrets. So it’s here, in intimate surroundings I find myself eager to hear their hauntingly beautiful tales. I am not alone as the room is filled to capacity.
Vikish Kapoor2
This is surely welcomed by Vikesh Kapoor who is supporting them on their run of UK dates. Vikesh gives a vulnerable, but self-assured performance. His voice displays a maturity that belies his age as he sings “Ode To My Hometown” documenting the bland unstoppable charge of the multi-nationals taking over and changing towns for the worst. With nothing more than voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica, Vikesh is able to create vivid images and stories with his melodies. None more so than on “Carry Me Home” delivered with an urgency reminiscent of early REM. The lullaby quality of “Blue Eyed Baby” renders the room completely silent. The set ends with “The Ballad Of Willy Robbins” (also the title of his debut album) It has been a brief but very welcome introduction.

Quite the opposite with The Handsome Family tonight, as they are greeted much like old friends. They open with “My Sisters Tiny Hands” a sorrowful tale of Whiskey, Snakes, and loss. As you would expect, Brett and Rennie are accomplished musicians. Whilst no doubt slick, having performed this song hundreds of times, it has lost none of its rawness, integrity and honesty. These qualities are also found within the lyrics of their second song “So Much Wine”, a very different, but for many, real experience of Christmas Day through the prism of alcoholism.
Judging by the reaction to “The Bottomless Hole” this is clearly a favourite. Amongst tales of the darker side of life and nature, there is much humour to be found courtesy of the quick witted Rennie. Each song is introduced with random musings, stories and self-deprecating humour; “Somewhere Else To Be” we are told, is a very sad song about Onion Rings!
The Handsome Family16
It’s refreshing to see artists so confident that they play “Far From Any Road”, which has recently brought them so much recognition, about half way through the set. Others in their situation would no doubt save it until the end; but as proud as they must be of its success, they clearly wouldn’t want their 20 years defined by one song – however good! Rennie’s playful side is in evidence as she introduces this as “our hit from the TV show The Sopranos”.
The Handsome Family5
Based upon tonight’s performance and the genuine warmth towards them, It’s fair to say their family has grown.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.