The Village Underground looks to be a perfect setting for A Winged Victory For The Sullen (AWVFTS); a big wide space with brick walls and arches providing a converted church vibe which seems conducive to a good gig. There has clearly been attention to detail put in by the promoters with a warning that the bar will be closed during the actual performance, which is a necessity in a gig of this type.
The punters here are in relaxed form with the majority choosing to sit on the floor as they await the show. As support act and AWVFTS label mate Douglas Dare takes to the stage he gives them a gentle shove to get them off their feet for his gig.
Having just the day before launched his debut EP at a gig with a few dozen people he's aware that tonight's almost packed house is something of a different affair. This doesn't faze Dare in the slightest as he, with only a piano for
accompaniment, delivers a mature performance well beyond his 23 years of age.
The title track 'Seven Hours' is stuffed with emotion, tingling with warbling vocals and mesmerising piano playing. It's music that piques the interest of those around who may not be familiar with Dare's work. 'Flames' is another such track which while minimal in instrumentation again is stuffed full with driving passion. It almost spills over too much causing an unequal balance between the lyrics and the instrumentation.
There is a swagger and confidence to Dare which makes you believe he belongs on the stage. The music itself has moments of undeniable beauty with others which I place question marks over. There is room for progression here as he clearly has bags of talent. By the end of the set, it seemed as if each track was blending into the one before. His EP includes a more beefed up sound with the aid of added percussion and maybe that inclusion in a live setting could give him a new
dimension on stage.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen take to the stage looking pretty dishevelled. Adam Wiltzie announces that the band has been rehearsing tirelessly and that they are essentially running on fumes. They kindly ask the audience to be gentle tonight as it's the first time they try out a whole bunch of new material.
Most of that
new material is for a new show from multi-award winning choreographer Wayne
McGregor called 'Atomos'. He commissioned the band to create 67 minutes of original material for a new show he's composing which will be played live at a string of dates at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London later this month.
Wiltzie jokes that it usually takes him 14 years to create two tracks so creating essentially a full album in 3 months has taken its toll on him. AWVFTS are accompanied by a five piece string section from Belgium who they consider to
now be part of the band.
The music shares many of the same hallmarks that made their debut LP so well regarded. Like on record if you close your eyes at the gig you are automatically
transported to a wholly different place in your mind. These subtle yet huge compositions have the ability to paint a linear narrative in your mind ranging from totally desolation to the zenith of joy. The music itself has the ability to feed off your imagination or vice versa and for that alone it's pretty special.
Wiltzie and O' Halloran specialise in piano based atmosphere and their music eeks in at every corner of the venue and produces the grandeur you'd expect from a classically trained outfit ten times their size.
It reminds me of some of my favourite movie composers including Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight, Thin Red Line) and Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Wall-E, Road to Perdition).
It's undeniable that AWVFTS should, by all rights, be in the business of creating movie soundtracks and you get the feeling that this will be the next natural step after performing live soundtracks in the live art spectrum.
They acknowledge that playing all new material may not be the best way to endear themselves to a crowd, even though it is noticeably well received. Tracks like 'We Played Some Open Chords' from the debut LP have a gravitas that few bands in any genre can command and it's a nice nod to their earlier work and what most here will have come to see.
As much as the gig is musically impressive you can't help but feel its lacking something. This is in essence a practice run for a choreographed dance show and you get the feeling that the gig itself would benefit massively from a visual element. The gig is slightly ramshackle in that there seems to be discussions between Wiltzie and O' Halloran during the gig, almost ad-libbing it, giving it
something of a stop start feel.
It's a welcome return to the stage for AWVFTS and there is plenty to get excited about with the new material. Once they tour again proper they should certainly give more bang for their buck than this enjoyable if not fully immersive warm up
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article by: Paul Mullin
| published: 03/10/2013 17:07|