Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Other Lives soars to other places

On Monday night we went to see Other Lives at St Giles in the Fields. It was one of the best gigs I've been to for ages.

Other Lives are one of this year's most exciting break-through band (check them out here). They've been around a while but new album, Tamer Animals, is a step up from everything that preceded it. It's a wonderful collection.

Live the band are tight and slightly ramshackle; everyone plays a variety of instruments, sometimes many in the course of a single song, diving between keys, brass, autoharp, cello, tom toms, pump organ, guitars and violins. Even the drummer was seen playing a clarinet while keeping the rhythm at one point.

But Monday evening was not just a display of dexterous virtuosity, it was also an emotional roller-coaster ride. Other Lives produce music of romantic and epic sweep. I don't if it was the venue - St Giles is a beautifully appointed seventeenth century church - but the gig felt like something more than just a concert (though doesn't great music always create that potential?). Things came to a head with a cover version of Leonard Cohen's epic cri de coeur the Partisan, played with a fragile energy that really suited singer Jesse Tabish's voice. As he sang 'Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing, through the graves the wind is blowing, freedom soon will come; then we'll come from the shadows' and I thought about the news from Egypt and Occupy London, I found myself in tears.

Great songs articulate feelings too deep for conversation. I was in Romans 8 territory, the Spirit of God urging the birth of a new world of peace and justice, finding words for our longing for change. I don't what my fellow gig goers were feeling...!

This was a great gig in a truly wonderful venue. I hope St Giles will continue to develop as a place where good music is put on for medium-sized and appreciative audiences.

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