Sometimes, just sometimes, an evening of live music can surpass whatever expectations you may have held previously. Elevating a listless Monday night from the doldrums of the working week and transforming it into an evening tinged with anticipation and revelation; realms usually only privy to that of the weekend.
The superb Matt Sheehan kicks off tonight’s musical merriment. Equipped with just an acoustic guitar and the occasional accompaniment from his violin-toting accomplice, Sheehan plays a heartfelt selection from his debut EP ‘The Alder Tree’. Much of Sheehan’s vocal delivery teeters around the upper echelons of his register, a style that can sometimes be viewed, when coupled with emotive lyrics, as creating a sense of false sentiment. Not in this case. Sheehan’s songs and performance are captivating and seem to go down well with the enthused audience members.
Next to grace the stage is Joe Banfi; the official support for Fossil Collective during their cross-country tour, and purveyor of the politest stage manner, demonstrated whenever subtle sonic adjustments are requested of the sound engineer. Joining the ethereal Banfi on this tour is Scott Barnett, who is relied upon to add layers of atmosphere to the enchanting tones circulating the room.
Banfi’s allotted slot sees him perform songs taken from his latest EP ‘Nomads’, which includes the impressive ‘Olive Green’ and ‘Oarsmen’. Huge credit must be given to Banfi, as it’s hard enough to approach a support slot in the hope of garnering favour with an audience that may never have heard of you, but Banfi not only engages the audience, he actually takes the room and transforms its DNA into something altogether different for that thirty minutes or so. Before we know it, the atmosphere is returned to the upright position and the stage is vacated in preparation for the main event.
Fossil Collective make a welcome return to the Hare and Hounds in support of their newly released debut album ‘Let It Go’. The Leeds based group take to the stage and immediately take things into the stratosphere. Every great band has that element unique to them, something that sets them apart from their contemporaries. Fossil Collective’s magical quality, in addition to great songwriting and superb musicianship, lies in the blend of their incredible voices.
Easily the standout performances are ‘On and On’, ‘The Magpie’ and title song ‘Let It Go’. As the band perform, I’m reminded of the scene from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’; when The Ark of the Covenant is opened, but instead of being greeted with ghoulish spirits whirling around the room, it is the scarily impressive and enchanting voices of Fossil Collective that weave there way through the audience.
This band is just so very good. Tonight’s performance would suggest that it is probably the last chance to get to see them in such intimate surroundings. Lead singer, Dave Fendick thanks the audience throughout for “coming out on a school night” and jokingly mentions that the album has charted at number twenty-two, beating Justin Bieber’s weekly sales. Such is the immediate impact of Fossil Collective that you could imagine it taking one performance on ‘Later…With Jools Holland’ to send sales of ‘Let It Go’ soaring, perhaps even surpassing Ant and Dec’s ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble’.
Photographs by Steve Gerrard