Howling Bells @ Classic Grand 11-03-09 (a review)

review in the herald
review from theandykerr blog

Last Wednesday we went to go see howling bells. I quite liked their first album but didn’t get a chance to hear the new album until the day of the concert. it seemed less rocky/grungy than I remembered. But I did like the album. It reminded me of Franz Ferdinand. Rock music influenced by angular dance music. I went with my friends Rich and lynzy

Venue – Classic Grand
the queue for the bar took up over half of the main standing area.
The smoke machines periodically obscured any view of the stage.
felt vaguely gladiatorial with the raised areas around the side.
It was my first time in there as a venue. Not sure i would be in a hurry to go back.

Support – The Joy Formidable.
seemed to be trying to hard. I realise being a support band is a thankless task, but the task is made hard when the lead singer reminds you of the receptionist/admin worker at your wives company. Only with slightly jerkier movements
didn’t really get the crowd ready for anything.

Sound & lighting
Decent, but the system seemed to be lacking headroom around the high mid range frequencies. it was sounding undefined around there. i could see most things but the constant smoke was a real problem.

Main Band – Howling bells
They came out and opened with some stuff from the new album.
it didn’t seem to be met with a rapturous reception. I am not sure the audience then actually went with the band after that. the songs in my short term memory sounded good, and reasonably close to the versions on the album.but the people in the room didn’t seem to be getting it, the crowd noise increased. the band seemed quite tight. the songs sounded good. but the audience generally seemed reticent to go with it.

the album has received mixed reviews with a pretty equal split to be found on any internet search. I wondered if that indifference had influenced the attitude of the (noisy) crowd. I also wondered how many people had actually heard the album rather than as the man I overheard in the toilet, while talking on his phone,
“I saw a picture of this burd in a magazine and i thought she looked hot so I am here to see her and her band…yeah hopefully i’ll be banging her later” I think he was being optimistic slightly.

The only point where things changed was during the song Golden Web, when singer Juanita Stein waltzed out into the middle of the crowd and started dancing. she just disappeared and the appeared about 1 meter from us in the middle of the main standing area. The atmosphere did change and people seemed to respond to that genuinely.

Conclusion – mixed
I really enjoyed hearing the songs live, but it was held back from being a great gig by the lack of headroom in the sound stuff and the strange crowd atmosphere. anyway enough of my random witterings.