God Is In The TV > Reviews > Live > Band Of Horses/Israel Nash – 02 Institute, Birmingham, 20/02/2017

Band Of Horses/Israel Nash – 02 Institute, Birmingham, 20/02/2017

Band Of Horses

There is an interesting mix of revellers here tonight in Birmingham. The O2 Institute is not, as I perhaps wrongly anticipated, filled with a cascade of men undergoing mid-life crises, or an endless succession of beardy-beardy stroke-strokes. I am not sure entirely why I had expected such an audience, but what we get is quite the opposite. There is, in fact, a passable contingent of pretty young things in butt-clenchingly tight blue denims, with nicely coiffured barnets in blonde and brunette shoulder length bobs. If, as seems to be the case on this evidence, this means that today’s ‘yoof’ is throwing off the shackles of the autotune straitjacket with which their generation has been unceremoniously sullied, in favour of the true art of songsmithery, then that is surely all to the good.

Israel Nash

Whether all this is down to the unwavering beauty of support act Israel Nash‘s not inconsiderable songwriting prowess, or whether it is the enveloping majesty of Band Of Horses in real live surround sound, is anybody’s guess. I suspect it’s a bit of both. The great thing about tonight is that everybody seems equally excited to see both support and the evening’s headliners, which is sadly something of a rarity these days. Nash himself played a stripped down, flawless set, accompanied only by his fellow musician and tour manager, Eric Swanson. The peerless ‘Parlour Song‘, ‘Rexanimarum‘ and ‘LA Lately‘ were all swiftly outed one after the other in a kind of lo-fi holy trinity and proved that the greatest effects can sometimes be achieved by the barest of minimums. The Missourian completed his tenure with a rousing version of Dylan‘s ‘I Shall Be Released‘, and encouraged the crowd: “You all know this one, so feel free to join in“. Looking around at the blank (but still appreciative) faces, however, I suspect that the good folk of Birmingham, Alabama probably know this song a lot better than their British Midlander counterparts do!

As for Band Of Horses, it is easy to forget just what a formidable canon of work they are able to draw from. So impressive is their portfolio that they can afford to play ‘The Great Salt Lake‘ – probably one of their best known songs – just two songs in and still enrapture their audience for the remainder of their performance. Clearly they have something of a hardcore following too, with many of the assembled throng before them reciprocating with a full throated rendition of each song they play. Many of the fans could recite every single word as though it were the Lord’s Prayer. To them, that’s pretty much what these tunes are. It’s easy to see why – not only do you get more than your money’s worth at a Band of Horses show, but you have to witness them live to fully appreciate just how jubilant, how unexpectedly joyous they are.

What struck me the most, however, was the celebratory atmosphere of proceedings. The band are perhaps best known for their sweepingly emotional Americana, and because of this, it’s easy to forget that the likes of ‘Is There A Ghost‘ and ‘Casual Party‘ mean they fit snugly into the ‘rock’ pantheon too. And boy do they know how to throw one!

PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Reno.

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