A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Woodpigeon / Laura Gibson / Withered Hand, Union Chapel, 06/05/10

I made a late decision to pick up a ticket to see Canadian indie-rock-pop outfit Woodpigeon at Union Chapel on Thursday night, largely based on hearing (and loving) the track 'Woodpigeon Vs Eagleowl' from their new album 'Die Stadt Muzikanten' (thanks to Word magazine for including it on their April edition CD). The fact that Laura Gibson was supporting and that it was at Union Chapel also helped make my decision.

I hadn't heard anything about the opening support act Withered Hand (a Scottish singer-songwriter called Dan Willson) but he was brilliant, definitely the highlight of the show for me. He kind of inhabits a similar musical territory to Jeffrey Lewis and Daniel Johnston and played a great selection of funny, touching, confessional, lo-fi songs, with shaky, self-deprecating vocals. I loved 'Religious Songs' and especially 'Cornflake' (with its brilliant line of "John Harvey Kellogg doesn't want me for a sunbeam" which lodged itself in my mind for the next few days). He even sounded a little like Neil Young at times, albeit an outsider, anti-folk version. Check out a great live recording of 'Cornflake' here. I'd recommend going to see him play live if you get the opportunity.
I had saw Laura Gibson only a few weeks earlier supporting Port O'Brien at The Borderline and she turned in another confident set of stripped-down alt-folk songs, full of pretty vocals and audience participation.

I really enjoyed Woodpigeon although I do think they sound better on record. Their beautifully crafted, hazy, warm songs remind me of Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens. Live, their songs sound a little heavier and have a harder edge than the immaculate melodies, strings/brass arrangements and girl-boy harmonies of their records. They are quite an engaging spectacle live - the slightly reserved guys on one side of the stage playing guitars, sporting impressively large beards, while the pretty girls on the other side play keyboards, violin & flute, provide backing vocals and spend most of the set dancing along to the songs. I am very much looking forward to hearing their new album over coming weeks...

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