As Liu Bei took up their respective instruments, ready to begin proceedings at The Wardrobe on Wednesday evening, I could immediately tell they were going to be an excellent fit opening up for a band like Dry The River.
Fully equipped with two guitarists, a man in a world of keyboards, a drummer, and a bearded bassist to boot, they were steadying themselves to produce a similar sound to their headlining counterparts. Beautiful falsetto vocals and swirling harmonies set the tone for an evening of melancholic music much to be enjoyed by one and all.
Next up were Gengahr, an exciting London-based four-piece. Stuttering delays and low slung guitars tipped their hat to Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, whilst interesting chord progressions and bold British grit reminded me of Blur. Each song had a strong dynamic juxtaposition, between soft heart felt vocal lines and brash Brit-pop instrumentation. The tight kick, snare and high hat combinations punctuated by the percussionist certainly had a hip hop influence, and the abrupt endings to each song shocked the crowd into applause. ‘Powder’ was a standout track, promoting the most enthusiastic reception from the now full room, who clearly became enthused by Gengahr’s fresh take on indie-pop.
A low organ swell, increasing in intensity announced the arrival of Dry The River. It was a pleasure to see the band in a venue of this size, large enough to accommodate their adoring fan base, but small enough to avoid the abandonment of intimacy that comes with bigger stages.
A well thought out set list catered for the needs of the captive audience, singles from the new album Everlasting Light and Gethsemane invoking just as loud a cry as anything from Shallow Bed.
An inevitable encore saw the band play History Books to a near silent room, only the low bustle of bar staff could be heard alongside the achingly beautiful ballad, a real mark of respect from the audience. This led into Shaker Hymns and finally Weights and Measures which crashed around The Wardrobe like a tidal wave, washing over the sea of faces and sending them home smiling.
Gig date: October 15