Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Restoration Time

If Dry the River are mostly described as a folk rock band, they are being done an injustice. The haunting tenor of lead singer Peter Liddle sets them apart from the many bands inhabiting that ground between the tender and the rousing; his plaintive voice manages to lend their songs a quality which is, at once, both hymnal and anthemic.

The East London band established themselves with their debut album, Shallow Bed, in 2012. With its trademark contrast of melancholia and euphoria, it viewed life and love through the prism of religious imagery. Typified by songs that begin softly and build to a crescendo of guitars, this was demonstrated at the Concorde 2 in Brighton last night by New Ceremony - ‘the angel of doubt laid down sand beneath our house’ - and centrepiece song, Bible Belt.

This style has continued on the 2014 follow up album, Alarms in the Heart. The rising title track opened last night’s set and was followed by the sacred scenes of the more even Hidden Hand (‘had a vision in the chapel/the flames flickered on your forehead’) and the delicate and moving Gethsemane (leave that painful memory/in the Garden of Gethsemane).

Introducing early single and set-closing favourite No Rest, with its mitigating refrain of ‘I loved you in the best way possible’, bassist Scott Miller commented that the band had been playing the song live for five years. If that seemed a little tired, it was dispelled at the end by his observation that, despite having had a bad day, gigs like this always raised his spirits. And there’s the rub: nobody can fail to be lifted by the restorative music of Dry the River

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