Bittles‘ Magazine | In Concert: Mt. Wolf Live at Heaven (London)
When an emerging band are as hyped as London four-piece Mt. Wolf are right now it is usually a sign that you are going to hate them with a passion. Most of this is down to the fact that over these last few years here in London town the hype machine has been chugging out faceless crap band after faceless crap band. Yet, early indications suggest that Mt. Wolf may actually warrant all the media and blog attention that has come their way! Vocalist Kate Sproule has a soft, enchanting voice that could melt the strongest of hearts, while the band’s hushed atmospherics sound just as good on a warm Summer’s morning as on a cold November night. By JOHN BITTLES
Only two years old, the band’s first two EPs Life Size Ghosts and Hypolight have a subtle mix of trip-hop, pop and folk that managed to make even the most cynical of tastemakers swoon. Latest single Midnight Shallows (out from the 4th November) takes that template and runs. More focused and better produced than its predecessors the song is a huge step forward for a band that is braced in the centre of a meteoric rise to fame.
All of which brings us here to Heaven on a cold November evening with a thousand other over-excited and eager young souls waiting to discover just how good this over-hyped group are going to be live. Hipsters mingle with tourists while I bump fists with a friendly toilet attendant and settle myself down for what will, hopefully, be a damn good show.
Opening support band GREATWAVES almost made the few of us there early enough to catch them head straight back out the door with an opening track that was so awful the meagre crowd looked to each other imploringly for moral support. After the opening sonic barrage the band calmed down somewhat with vocalist David De Lacy taking centre stage with his guitar held high and a voice that is barely audible over the ominous bass. The sound was muggy and overloaded which didn’t help! Everything but the bass was hideously drowned out meaning subtlety, guitar lines and anything else that might have entertained the crowd was lost. This was a shame as you felt that if the duo were able to step out from behind the shadow of noise then they might have actually been quite good.
Much better were Phoria who overcame the sound problems to present the fast filling room with poignant belters and heartrending ballads that ably managed to permeate the atmosphere even through the unclear sound. Lead singer Trewin Howard has a voice that stands out like an overdressed penguin in a sauna giving their wall-of-sound like tracks an emotional counterpoint that held the whole set together brilliantly. There were moments of thrills and excitement in a too short set where songs like Set Your Mind On It and Red managed to soar to the heavens and back again.
The large room was beginning to fill up and Phoria’s songs were receiving more and more applause until, upon the end of their set, many people were keenly tipping them for future success. ‘Like Coldplay, but with lots of bass’ one punter remarked which summed the band up pretty perfectly for me.
By the time the headline act strode confidently onto the stage after a truly awful DJ set that stone-cold killed any atmosphere previously built up in the room the place was beginning to feel like it was a little bit packed, i.e. my claustrophobia was beginning to kick in. When you consider that Heaven can hold over 2000 people this can’t be bad for a band that are yet to release an album and rather remarkably are still unsigned. But you would never have guessed that this was a young inexperienced band on stage as they played a tight and energetic set that roared with vigour and life.
Kate Sproule makes for a sweet yet focused vocal point for the band while songs such as Life Size Ghosts, Cry Wolf and single Midnight Shallows flow past with peaks that have the crowd pumping their fists and cheering along with gusto. With a cheeky charm that easily wins over the crowd the band do a great job in entertaining the crowd during the forty odd minute show.
Having the courage to speed things up considerably for their live set really suits the group and lends the concert a euphoric and energetic air. While on record they resemble bands such as London Grammar or The XX with their folk inspired quietness and sense of space, live it is all about crashing drums, screaming synths and each song ending in a glorious crescendo of noise.
Their short set finishes without an encore and Kate rather bashfully inviting the audience to hang around so we can have a bit of a get together and a chat. As no tea or biscuits were mentioned most of us just trudged off home! And, no, their music may not save lives, cure cancer or put an end to the scourge that is Eastenders for good! Yet, as we departed back into the realities of our nine-to-five lives the general consensus seemed to be that for once we had witnessed a band that had comprehensively justified the hype. And for that fact alone we should give Mt. Wolf a world of thanks!
| JOHN BITTLES