Two years ago the Lad and I saw band of Horses deliver a roaring set at the Shepherds Bush Empire and here we are in 2010 and I get to see them twice within a couple of days: first off with the Lad at the Roundhouse and second time around with IDS at Wulfren Hall in Wolverhampton.
Infinite Arms as an album struck me initially as a disappointment, too laid back and just lacking the verve of the first two. But Arms has turned out to be a collection of songs that have wheedled their way in and but the time we rocked up at the Roundhouse I was looking forward to hearing it all live.
The Roundhouse is a great venue, large enough but no so large to be impersonal and we grabbed our place on the raised patch in front of the sound desk (the Lad isn’t fond of the crush bar area for some reason). Darker My Love did nothing to really endear themselves to us, they sounded a bit ragged, the vocals sounding like a six inch nail being dragged down a window pane and generally the sound was awful. The Lad couldn’t wait for them to go – never one to miss a chance for an immediate judgment!
BoH entered after In the Air Tonight ushered them on stage at the celebrated drum point. Ok a very cheesy entrance but it was so bad it was good. There is a little review of the Roundhouse show from ‘Eggs’ Oakley which most helpfully has a full set list. BoH rocked through the set pretty darned well, the new songs fitting in well with the older ones, and felt stronger, tougher and generally better. The huge back sheet had a continuous run of great monochrome and just off monochrome pictures of rural America, a perfect visual accompaniment for the music they play. Funeral certainly got the most vociferous welcome, a masterful song delivered powerfully, wonderful.
We had to slip away after Detlef Schrempf to get the last train back to Swindon. A good, perhaps very good show spoilt only by being so far back in the crowd.
Wolverhampton was the one that did it for me though. IDS and I were at the doors with acres of time, straight to the front and our spot at the bar – perfect. Wulfren Hall, an almost identical smaller brother to the Civic is a perfect size venue.
Darker My Love came on and my expectations were low given the previous experience. However the sound was better, they played better and actually they were pretty good, if I hadn’t seen the first show I would have thought them very good.
No cheesy Phil Collins intro tonight, a much more regular and appropriate stage entry. From the off BoH seemed more relaxed, chatty, happy and up for it. Straight into a stonking set (details can be seen here) Banter between band members, a crowd that couldn’t get enough, a set of songs that was perfect, playing at the top of their form… ah magic. I could have stayed all night. The addition of 13 Days (JJ Cale cover) and the final Am I A Good Man (a Them Two cover) were brilliant. All too soon it was over
It’s always a bit of schlep up to Wolverhampton especially after a bit of crap few days, but just how worth it was it? One of the best of gigs, super loud (might finally have to succumb to gig ear plugs), great to share it with IDS, ah great times, wonderful band, uplifting and transcendent.
Pix courtesy of IDS