By Joe Goggins
19th April 2012
If it wasn’t for the recession or the election of a Tory-led government, you’d be able to say, with absolute conviction, that the inexplicable rise of Mumford and Sons is the worst thing to happen in this country since the turn of the decade. The list of reasons why is comprehensive, and in there, alongside desperately contrived, ’emotional’ lyrics and the popularisation of waistcoats, is that their success has been responsible for a glut of similarly bland outfits also emerging, allegedly as ‘folk rock’ bands, a label that is usually used vaguely at best and in a totally misleading manner at worst.
It’s a tag that was applied to Dry the River when they first began to make waves, so it’s pleasing to find that the band have fused the multi-part vocal harmonies and clanging guitars that the tag implies with elements of post-rock, with intriguing results. This is a band who wear their influences firmly on their sleeve and as such, it’s all the more impressive that the likes of set opener ‘Animal Skins’, which recalls Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’ with its anthemic chorus and layered drums, still manages to avoid sounding too derivative. A number of extended instrumental jams show off the band’s penchant for post-rock sounds, and perhaps the performance’s most impressive feature is how close the band appear to be to mastering the epic live soundscapes that may well take them to the arenas these songs are clearly designed for.
That’s not to say they can’t engage with a crowd; the banter comes thick and fast tonight and there’s even a tribute to the in-attendance Rio Ferdinand, who is apparently now spending his evenings at rock concerts in the hope they might transport him back to a time when he wasn’t slower than a week in jail. Footballing allegiances aside (they’re from London, who did you think they’d support?), it’s nice to hear from a band that are capable of putting their own stamp on current trends, rather than merely diluting them.
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