...And so to And So I Watch You From Afar. Shamefully I have to admit I had not come across this band before, despite them coming from my hometown of Belfast. The band have performed in Leicester many times and almost consider it their musical home from home. The previously cluttered stage took on a very bare and clear appearance and it was soon obvious why. These guys don’t stand still for a minute and deliver a frenetic set of alternative math, prog and post rock. Fresh from a tour of Asia and Europe this is their closing night before returning to the Emerald Isle.
The band are mainly an instrumental set-up with occasional vocals led by Rory Friers and more likely to be chants than lyrics. Opening with Euonia/ Big Thinks, from their most recent album, All Hail Bright Futures, I initially thought I was in for a night of Celtic Rock but the sound develops quickly into something less generic – a wonderful fusion of powerful riffs, structure-shifting rhythms, catchy melodies and experimentation with time signatures. Whilst many of the songs go through similar power riff, ballad, power stages, there is plenty of variety.
Working through tracks from both Gangs and All Hail Bright Futures, the band have the crowd in the palm of their hand and Rory intersperses songs with genuine friendly banter – not the usual meaningless ‘this is our new song’ mumblings. Clearly Leicester has a special place in their musical souls.
The band is much lauded for positivity in it’s music and this comes through both in the music and the audience reaction. During the performance I could hear very occasional Celtic influences that took me back to one of my favourite Irish bands, Horselips. But with And So I Watch You From Afar, they are very much in the background.
Django was one of my favourites and as with many of their songs could be aptly summed up as aggressive but gentle when it needed to be.
The band finished off with favourite, S is for Salamander and left the stage, in stages, each to febrile adulation and genuine warmth. A set of over an hour and we were leaving the majestic setting of Hansom Hall approaching midnight musing on a magical Handmade bill.
Come back soon And So I Watch You From Afar, but maybe shorten the name for the sake of my typing fingers!
See full review here