Ewan Harris reviews London Grammar as they tour Bristol at Colston Hall on October 27.
Friday night at Colston Hall was a sell-out as London Grammar toured their highly anticipated second album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing. The band from Nottingham played Bristol for the third time in their career, which has spanned the last 8 years.
They were more than ably supported by American band Lo Moon who warmed up the room with music of a similar ilk to London Grammar, culminating in their biggest hit to date: Loveless. It was a difficult audience to judge but as a student I certainly felt in the minority. The vast majority of the crowd was much older than I had anticipated, who spoke to London Grammar’s broad fanbase.
While no one doubts the praise and critical acclamation that London Grammar have received since their debut album in 2013, my fear leading up to the gig was that their sound would be lost as they continue to play bigger and bigger venues. The intimacy and emotion in their songs might not translate to the masses.
Those fears were assuaged even by Lo Moon as their repetitive bass lines reverberated around the hall. As London Grammar came out, there was a huge sense of anticipation to greet the opening bars of Who Am I. It’s hard to exactly explain the atmosphere inside Colston Hall. We were sat down in the stalls which certainly created an interesting dynamic, the standing section below us slowly drifting with the music. Any cries from the audience between numbers were quickly “shhh”ed by the incredibly polite crowd, everyone seemingly terrified of breaking the atmosphere created by the music.
In an age where often the onus on a musician is to be more than just that, to be a “performer” and to create a “show”, there was something utterly mesmerising about watching the three musicians on stage go about their work in such a minimalist way. There was no grandstanding, no playing to the crowd save brief comments between songs, the whole experience was geared totally around their sound.
Hannah Reid, Dominic Major and Dan Rothman have their set down to an absolute tee. They seamlessly flow from song to song with each receiving wilder applause than the last. There are only two sizeable breaks in the set. The first allowing Reid to thank all those that have supported them along their “journey” as she intros Hey Now. She invites people to sing along if they know the words but you would have to be incredibly brave to try. Her vocal range across the night was unbelievable, highlighted by several sections where she had no backing music, just her voice. The second was one of the most protracted yet predictable encores I have seen. A brief mention for those who escaped during this to presumably “miss the traffic” – everyone in the room knew they were coming back, why miss arguably their three most famous songs?
They capped off said encore with Bones of Ribbon, Oh Woman Oh Man and Metal & Dust, the perfect way to send the audience off into their weekends. My friend and I had just submitted coursework and so an evening where we could just let London Grammar wash over us was absolutely perfect. As the man next to me at the post-gig urinals said, “Hannah Reid, voice of an angel eh?” Yep, pretty much.