The past year has seen South Carolina’s Band of Horses emerge from the Americana underground into the big venue mainstream, following the release of album number three, Infinate Arms in May last year. Since then, the six strong band have been trawling the worldwide circuit, playing to packed houses far and wide.
Tonight’s sold out Academy 1 is testament to their rise to mass appeal. Punters of all ages, shapes and dress code are filling the room to the sounds of openers Goldheart Assembly, whose sweet west-coast harmonies and lush guitars warm the frosty January night.
The return of Neil Halstead’s Mojave 3 causes a a significent rise in the amount of love in the room. Tonight joined by ex-Seafood, now Male Bonding bassist, Kevin Hendrick, Neil Halstead treats the room to favourites ‘Puzzles Like You’ and ‘She’s All Up Above’, but this beautiful, country folk set is miles too short for fans in tonight’s crowd.
Neil Halstead’s Mojave 3
As the lights go down on tonight’s buzzing, altough slightly sheepish, crowd, out-steps Ben Bridwell and his Band of Horses, striding out to raptuaous applause with beeming smiles all over their bearded faces.
Announcing that ‘tonight is going to be a party!”, Bridwell and Co take us through a sing along of mammoth proportions, all set to the back drop of beautiful americana inspired images and landscapes. They are brimming with passion and enthusiasm, somehow bringing the atmosphere of a sweaty club show to the vast sound cube that is the Mancester Academy.
The biggest responses of the evening go to second album classics, Is There a Ghost and The General Specific, as well as debut single, and anthemic fan favourite, The Funeral, which never fails to brings home the power and magnifient quality of Bridwell’s spine tingling voice.
The band are fantastic tonight, but show highlight as to go to the stripped back and intimate mid-set duet, which sees guitarist (and solo artist in his own right), Tyler Ramsey, take the lead vocal, with Bridwell providing beautifully meloncholic backing harmonies.
After Bridwell welcomes the members of Mojave 3 to the stage to join them in a ropey cover of Steely Dan’s, Dirty Work, our new heros of folk rock play out the rest of their 2 hour, emotionally charged set.
The cries for an encore at the end of night are testement to this wonderful band’s rise to the skies of success, and after tonights heart-felt, well loved performance, no one could begrudge them their recent commercial success. The stadiums are going to be calling for their next visit to this part of the world, and with a musical back-catalogue of this level, they will not struggle to have them resonating with applause.