The Dear Hunter @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 01/09/2015

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I only got into the Dear Hunter about a month ago, mostly because of their amazing new song ‘A Night on the Town’. I introduced them to a friend and a couple of weeks later we were on the 7-hour Megabus down to Cardiff to see our new favourite band live. It was bit of a punt as they could have not lived up to their brilliance on record. Luckily though, all was well. But first, the two support bands.

First up were The People The Poet, a local Welsh band who were great. Their set of mostly straightforward rock was both really enjoyable and very well performed, and was lifted from a good support band to something definitely more special by a few really epic moments and a brilliant performance from the lead singer. A short rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” in the middle of one of the songs was a nice touch and a sing-a-long brought the set to a great close.

Black Foxxes followed with a much heavier and discordant sound. Most of their songs flitted between huge walls of noise, about as loud as I’ve experienced at a gig, and quieter guitar/vocal moments led by some really brilliant guitar work. Although there was definitely a lack of variety over the 30 minutes there’s no denying that the playing and the performance were very impressive and the band fit the bill perfectly. A great support band but if I were to see them for anything more than a support slot I’d hope for a bit more variety.

The Dear Hunter opened with new song ‘Wait’ from the upcoming fourth instalment in their overarching series of concept albums. It’s a dark and deep song and was a really cool way to start the show with a simple rock intro that gets really heavy after the first chorus. Things got even better with ‘The Thief’ and ‘Mustard Gas’ from Act III, both of which continue in the same hard rock vein. Like much of the band’s music, these songs are filled with epic and beautiful moments and unique rhythms and instrumentation and everything they played translated brilliantly live despite the complexity and the lack of the brass and strings on so much of their recorded stuff. Things got more proggy with a never-before-played continuation of Act II‘s ‘The Bitter Suite’ and early track ‘1878’ which featured some nice vocal harmonies between frontman Casey Crescenzo and guitarist Robert Parr and a brilliant 70s-style keyboard solo during its seven minutes. Two songs from the band’s masterpiece Act II (the beautiful ‘Where The Road Parts’ and ‘Smiling Swine’, one of the most fun songs I’ve seen) sandwiched the set’s high point for me – ‘A Night on the Town’. Aside from the lack of a horn section, everything great about this song was amplified live; the massive chorus, the beautiful piano section in the middle and the wonderful instrumental section held their own against the best live music I’ve seen. The band brought yet more variety with three songs from The Color Spectrum, a set of nine EPs each inspired by a different colour – the light pop of ‘Misplaced Devotion’ (Yellow) and the reflective country/folk of ‘Things That Hide Away’ (Green) were lovely but ‘Home’ (White) was the real highlight. It’s been a favourite of mine since I first heard it and the huge finale was one of the concert’s most powerful moments. The concert came to a fine conclusion with ‘The Church and the Dime’, another intense masterpiece from Act II, and another one of my favourites, ‘Whisper’, from their only non-concept album Migrant. Every song they played was brilliant and, helped by the fact that Casey was so warm and funny when meeting him afterwards, I genuinely would rush to see them again.

Review: Hal C.

Setlist:

Wait

The Thief

Mustard Gas

The Bitter Suite IV and V: The Congregation and The Sermon in the Silt

1878

Where the Road Parts

A Night on the Town

Smiling Swine

Misplaced Devotion

Things That Hide Away

Home

The Church and the Dime

Whisper

 

 

 


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