Greywind + Holding Absence @ St Pancras Old Church, London

27th January 2017
Review & Photography by Graham Hilling

You might think a “working” church is an unlikely venue for a gig, and to be honest, you’d be right. The thought conjures up visions of a place dripping with atmosphere and heavy with incense and history. Thus were my thoughts when I decided to review the Greywind gig at St Pancras Old Church. However, I couldn’t have been further off of the mark, more of that later on though.

Only a couple of bands this evening, the first being the curiously named Holding Absence from Cardiff. Five young guys playing energetic melodic hardcore.

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Quite a strange choice for an opener considering Greywind make music that is quite different. However, they put in a very spirited performance, full of angst and emotion.

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The vocals of Lucas Woodland deserve a special mention, nice melodic lines and full on screams, moving effortlessly between styles which is not so easy to do.

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Ultimately, however, it should be noted that much of the audience (which was a real mix of old and yong punters) just didn’t really know what to make of these 5 youngsters, especially given that the overriding majority were here specifically to see Greywind.

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Full marks for effort though, the completion of the set sees the bass player on his knees and the drummer laid out behind his kit such is the emotional input expended.

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Definitely worth checking out and with the right audience this band would be able to really ignite the blue touch paper, one to watch especially given that they are so young.

Holding Absence Holding Absence

So, back to Greywind. For those readers that don’t know, this is a brother/sister collaboration, Paul & Steph O’Sullivan, from Ireland. They’ve pulled together a live band  and this is actually their first headline gig, obviously a big deal (especially with it being in London).

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There are quite a few Irish accents amongst the crowd too, perhaps family and friends. The music they make is difficult to describe, much less to pin down. Rock with pop sensibilities and a large helping of atmosphere and emotion. You’d think the church would be a great place for this gig given this.

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No way, I’m afraid. The church has no stage lights or haze and this makes the gig feel like a performance in someones front room. The band try to compensate by draping the amps and kit in fairy lights and laying red roses around the stage. Nice touches, but overall I can’t say I’m overly impressed with this as a venue.

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Anyway, I won’t dwell on this, suffice to say I think there would have been more impact at a more established London venue. Greywind themselves have garnered a lot of press attention for a band that has really only dipped their toes into the music biz and are just starting their musical careers.

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It’s well deserved too, despite the fact that this is indeed their first headline gig and they must have been as nervous as hell, they manage to pull off a very impressive performance.

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The vocals of Steph O’Sullivan are the highlight of the sound without a doubt, they manage to carry a massive payload of emotion while maintiaining just the right balance between control and drama. At times she looks like she may be overcome, but always manages to pull the vocal back from the brink.

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The songs themselves are well constructed, each having a hook that is infectious and immediately draws the listener in. There is some pop sensibility here that should be noted, each one of these songs would not be out of place on the mainstream radio.

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While we’re on the subject of the songs, most follow a pattern of quiet passages followed by big, loud choruses. While this can be a little generic after a while they all work well and manage to avoid falling into a duplicated song writing formula.

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The setlist reads like the album track listing, indeed, the only song from the album that does not get an airing this evening is “Wander”. Starting with the majestic “Circle”, we’re treated to a set of magnificent cascading highs with some simple but overwhelmingly atmospheric single string guitar lines.

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These make the music standout from the crowd and add a layer that definitely sets Greywind apart from many of their peers. Everything is as you’d expect, they sound well rehearsed, tight, and right on the money.

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Other notable songs from this evening are “Stitch on my Wings” and closing song “Afterthoughts”. All executed with precision and finesse. I look forward to seeing Greywind at their next London outing. They are destined for great things I’m sure and it is obvious they have a fine eye for detail and a ton of talent….not a bad combination!

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Setlist

Circle
Car Spin
The Lake
Desolate
Safe Haven
Stitch on my Wings
In Autumn
Forest Ablaze
Afterthoughts

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