The contingent huddled together in the freezing Temple room of Birmingham’s HMV Institute are rewarded for their tenacity by the arrival of support band Holy Esque. The Glasgow based four-piece have been together for barely a year, but in that time they have managed to garner a set-list that is surprisingly assured for such a relatively new endeavour.
Easily the most impressive aspect about Holy Esque is just how entertaining they are. So much so, that upon assuming their positions, any lingering conversations in the crowd are hurriedly extinguished as all heads are firmly directed in nodding approval
towards the stage that they will occupy for little over half an hour.
Out of sync with the current trend, Holy Esque have the just the one vocalist. Pat Hynes voice wholly reminiscent of JJ72’s Mark Greaney, but Hynes’ style is understated and has more versatility to it. The band projects a confident and likeable stage presence throughout the performance and display a definite knack for songwriting. There are undeniable Joy Division influences at work, particularly during the rousing culmination of the band’s set. Holy Esque are definitely a band worth investing some time with in the very near future.
The evening is elevated further as The Raveonettes flow on stage, cloaked in the hazy fog that will wisp around the Danish duo for the rest of the evening. The Raveonettes return to the second city as part of their mammoth tour in promotion of new album Observator. Rather than open with a new song, Wagner and Foo opt for 2008’s Hallucinations, taken from their album Lust Lust Lust.
From the outset, there are issues with the sound that never seem to get resolved, much to the annoyance of all concerned. Wagner’s
dissatisfaction with the sound quality is wholly apparent for most of the fist two songs. During the rare moments where his hands are not occupied by guitar strumming, Wagner gestures frantically in the direction of the seemingly inept “sound engineer”. Bizarrely, the sound engineer appears to be the only one in the room who is unable to decipher any problem. Perhaps in a desperate bid to dispel any insecurities or animosity from forming in Wagner’s mind, the engineer nods reassuringly as if to suggest the problem has been resolved. Credit to him, he may not have the bests ears in the music industry, but this engineer certainly knows how to massage the vulnerable psyche of the talent.
In spite of the problems, the band press onward with the glorious She Owns the Streets, the first airing of material from the new
album. The pairing of Wagner and Foo is sublime. In the tradition of great duos, The Raveonettes seem at their most impressive when singing together, allowing each vocal to paint on top of the other, swirling around in a joyous union. This is no more apparent than after each singer is afforded a moment to shine on their own. First up, Foo graces us with new song The Enemy, followed immediately by Wagner and his solo performance of Observations. Both performances are strong, and the new material is certainly impressive, but it is when we see the singers married together on 2011’s Apparitions, and Young and Cold that the show is taken to new heights.
Review by Chris Curtis
Photographs by Christine Tellier