August 12, 2017
The Slaughtered Lamb
“Sorry, strings in a warm room!”
Think you know harp music? Think again. The Alice Phelps Band’s sound was down-tuned, disembodied, discordant and powerful. Phelps was right to say it was “more heavy than depressing.” Her bandmate nailed it even further with “atmospheric.”
As well as swapping instruments, including guest spots by Lukas Drinkwater on double bass, there was strong vocal support. Two powerful backing singers surrounded Phelps’ husky tones.
This all culminated in a faithful cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop. Other set highlights included Bedlam Boys, Eucalyptus Dream and Whiskey Rhapsody.
Find out more about Phelps’ atmospheric uneasy harp music through facebook.com/alicephelpsband/
“This is a fine Saturday evening to experience some music in a windowless room”
If that introduction wasn’t enough of a clue that there would be about as much banter as music, Lukas Drinkwater proceeded to describe it as the “same shirt, same songs, same jokes” tour.
Drinkwater and Tobias Ben Jacob’s first songs were clear with pleasing falsetto and sweet harmonies. Having lulled the crowd into a false sense of security, the pair launched into a powerfully unsettling rendition of The Devil and Tobias Ben Jacob, with an extended Spanish guitar intro and demonic whispering.
Next up was Burning Low, which Drinkwater described as “an international dance floor hit…well, it made the overnight playlist on Radio 2 at four in the morning…anyway, my mum loves it.” Drinkwater’s mum is right. It was simultaneously catchy and vulnerable.
Whether through Paul Simon style wordplay and social commentary (Rough Diamonds) or tender delivery (We Are The First Ones Now), the duo proved themselves to be singularly articulate and talented.
The pair previewed Parallel from Jacob’s solo album, to feature a full band, including Drinkwater. Despite that interesting understanding of the word solo, the song was tender and poetic.
They joked that “about 80% of what we do is talk shit” which, of course, is doing themselves a disservice (it’s 85%).
Seriously though, it’s the playful nature of the duo’s live show, together with the quality of musicianship and chilled ambience, which elevates it above the simple description of “introspective folk music.”
This included slapping each other’s instruments (not a euphemism), gently poking each other (not a euphemism), and wondering just what it was that Meatloaf wouldn’t do for love (might be a euphemism). There was a lot of warmth in the room, with the audience and a band of brothers grinning throughout.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch Jacob and Drinkwater on their mini UK tour in January 2018. See lukasdrinkwater.com for details
Jacob’s album, Polyphonic Life, is out now. Find out more at tobiasbenjacob.com
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