Review: Too many guitars makes for Trembling madness

27 Aug 2012 @ 10.54 am
| Entertainment
Trembling Bells – pack your paracetamol

Review: Trembling Bells and support
Venue: The Duchess, York, August 21

Hyped headliners leave Grace Clarke reaching for the headache pills

Whenever a band are compared to the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, you should just assume that you are going to be bitterly, bitterly disappointed by them.

The Trembling Bells are a four piece band comprising of keyboard, harmonica, drums and what sounded to me like too many guitars.

Aspects of the outfit were impressive, Lavinia Blackwell was the perfect ethereal front woman with what I’m sure was an outstanding “joniesque” vocal… had I been able to hear her above all of the noise. Quite honestly a guitar, a harmonica and Blackwell would have probably moved me to tears.

I’m a fan of a lyric, and it was too much effort to try and distinguish them through the music. In the end I spent more time staring at her golden heels and willing the night to end than I did feeling inspired.

Once again, as so often happens in York, the support acts were far superior to the headliner. Tonight we were treated to Edd Barlow and Endangered Species.

Edd Barlow has a natural ability to make you feel like you belong, it’s almost as if he’s written all of his songs with you in mind.

His vulnerability and honesty as a musician is incredibly endearing, and that’s exactly why the crowd warms to him. He’s the first support act I’ve seen be applauded into an encore. His voice inspires pin drop silences, a blend of Rufus Wainwright and a stint in the Minster choir has given us something remarkable.

Seeing Edd Barlow allows you to feel like you’re part of something special, an entire room holding their breath, not wanting to miss a moment, certainly confirms that this is a musician destined for greatness.

Oliver Grabowski, aka Endangered Species is a challenging, but rewarding, listen. He sounds weary, melancholic, and really pissed off.

He reminded me of Pixies in that his vocal sounded purposely out of tune. There’s a definite punk influence and it seems like he’s written these songs across a series of woeful weekends following a bitter break up, hey, it worked for Bon Iver. I enjoyed his set, but he seemed to hate it, perhaps candlelit tables in The Duchess wasn’t the ideal set up for Endangered Species.

If the night had ended here I’d have left feeling hopeful and excited by life. But it didn’t, and I left with a hankering for pinot and paracetamol.