1st February 2013, Review by Ben Spencer
Having entered the highly esteemed Islington Assembly Hall for the first time on a dark windy night it was time to catch tonight’s opening act The Fauns. In what sounded like an ambient procession of guitar melodies and female fronted vocals, the band certainly appeared to keep the crowd enticed into their light sounding fusion of guitar noise and steady drum rolls. The on looking fans cheered back to the sweeping delicacies of ‘Love Struck’ a track that poured out with soothing vocals, a Tambourine and plenty of guitar effects. The soft sounding cymbal brushes from the drummer kept the tone giving everything a natural sounding essence.
‘With You’ came a distorted guitar intro and ethereal sounding vocals. The solid sounding drums echoed the band’s shoegaze dynamics as the bass lines maintained the grittier sounding core throughout.
The duration of their set saw fans clapping with raised arms to their more radio friendly vibe, but it was a welcoming addition the increasingly crowded venue. The Fauns provided an accessible sounding set full of energy and allure.
Next up on tonight’s bill is the psychedelic folk outfit Hexvessel. As the light’s dimmed down and the clean strumming pervaded the opening moments of the first song. It became quickly apparent that these guys certainly knew how to draw in the crowd. Full of density of and sombre sounding melodies they played through their set effortlessly as the clean vocals projected across the room with clarity and depth making their lyrical journey of ’ I am The Ritual’ a truly engaging narrative.
The blues sounding undertones of ‘Woods To Conjure’ swayed in with ease as the drums and trumpet added to the intensity of the performance with enraptured fans nodding along singing the lyrics back at the band.
Hexvessel’s dark looming atmosphere came to a head with ‘His Portal Tomb’. The sludgy sounding pace and fuzzy guitars set a brooding tonality as the more aggressive drum pounds lashed down amidst the joint vocal performance.
The crowd cheered loudly through the opening of ‘Women of Salem’, as the dense sounding guitar passages and interesting guitar effects resonated with strong prog rock influences.
After two impressive acts of the night the instrumental led introduction of Alcest was met with a wide applause from their fans. With little deliberation they burst out energetically with their recent single ‘Opale’. The progressive ambience of these guys remains strongly prevalent as Niege’s soaring clean vocals hit all the right notes as the infectious chorus busts in with staggering drums.
Next up, ‘Summers Glory’ plays out with heavier sounding riffs and clear sounding vocals as the tight drum work glides along with a melodic hooks thrown about the place as fans raised their hands the mid guitar driven breakdown.
Another highlight saw, ‘Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles’ as a well received addition to their set as the cathartic sounding guitars waded through with Neige’s blistering shrieks bursting out with vibrant blast beats revealing the bands more aggressive influences.
The new albums title track ‘Shelter’ came loaded with waves of guitar effects that swept across the venue against the dim blue lights and maintained a constant uplifting vibe as the drums propelled the track further into the band’s Post Rock tendencies.
raising the bar higher with ‘Beings of Light’, the clean vocals and enraged drumming corroded together seamlessly providing a well measured blend of aggression and fragility.
After closing off with catchy strumming ‘Souvenirs D’ un Autre Monde’ and Neige’s breath taking vocals, Alcest return for an encore to deliver one final serving of their mesmerizing sound. ‘Delivrance’ drifts by with dreamlike soundscapes as the guitars scale upward to cinematic heights with crashing drums and radiant vocals ascending into the band’s departure.
Tonight was one of those shows that will long be remembered for the unique directions of each band and the atmosphere they conjured up from the packed out venue. Full of artistically written song structures and compelling performances it was a show that makes it easy to understand why band’s such as Alcest have become so renowned for their unique style. Even those who have never heard of them would no doubt find enough inspiration from their performance to join their ever growing movement in the underground scene.
Alcest set list
2. Summer’s Glory
3. L’eveil des muses
4. Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles
5. Voix Sereines
7. Beings of Light
8. Autre temps
9. Sur l’océan couleur de fer
10. Percées de lumière
11. Souvenirs d’un autre monde