1st May 2015
Review and Photography by Jo Moolenschot
Only a few days shy of the release of their new album “Heirs”, Belfast-based quartet And So I watch You From Afar grace the Islington Assembly Hall in London for their last night of the UK leg of their tour before taking their math/post rock act over to Europe.
The gig is almost sold out with the standing area full and only a few seats available upstairs. The anticipation for this gig has created a real of buzz of excitement in the air, an element of gig-going I personally always really enjoy.
Support comes in the form of Mylets aka Amercian musician Henry Kohen, a one man act, with Kohen doing all the writing, singing and live performance himself. With the venue already filling up nicely he gets a warm welcome from the crowd and jumps straight into a surprisingly energetic set.
It’s really intriguing to see how one man can produce such a multi-layered and full sound. He utilises an enormous collection of pedals at his feet, a synth, and hammers away at a guitar all whilst singing into a mic. He has a crazy energy on stage as he juggles all of this, performing a kind of tap dance as he turns his guitar pedals on and off repeatedly at lightning speed. This curious pedal work along with some really punchy riffs help to form his unique “loop rock” music.
His rough scream vocals add further texture tp the overall sound and whilst I wouldn’t say he’s an extraordinary singer, his vocal style reminds me slightly of an industrial rock style, such as that of Trent Reznor, and I admit it kind of works. Some really fast intricate guitar work gets some cheers from the audience and generally speaking I’d say he goes down really well with the crowd who are dumbfounded by his energy, rhythm and speed at which he performs. If you ever get a chance to catch him then do because Mylets is truly fascinating to watch.
When ASIWYFA appear it is to an eruption of applause and cheers. The expression on their faces is heartwarming as they are visibly amazed and touched by the sheer size of the audience as well as their warm welcome. They immediately blast into their set opening with “Run Home”. They have incredible energy on stage from the get go which they maintain brilliantly for the entirety of their set. There’s great variety in their performance too with a great mix of songs, old and new, including a good handful of songs from their new yet to be released (at the time) album.
There are a few moments on a couple of tracks when they bring everything right down to the softest volume and gentle playing possible, creating an intense stillness in order to build up incredible anticipation and intensity. It’s so quiet aside from a few gentle notes you can almost hear the person next to you breathe and everyone in the audience is standing perfectly still, totally riveted. Eventually the songs come crashing back in, the volume and energy levels surge back up into a crescendo and the effect is elating.
There is not a single vocalist in this band, but rather the vocals are always performed together by all four musicians which sounds brilliant and lends more power to their performance. This is enforced even more by the audience joining in much of the singing. In fact the audience interaction really brought something special to the evening with people becoming so involved in singing, cheering, moshing and clapping along. The audience are so engaged it creates an immense atmosphere and the deafening roars after various favourite tracks further indicate ASIWYFA are well-loved in this city which is lovely to see.
Technically the band perform well showcasing some tight guitar work and generally putting on a very professional performance. Mylets reappears to join in on one song which goes down well. I really enjoy how the set goes through various changes in sound and tempo, even turning slightly metal in some parts which shows the variety in ASIWYFA’s sound.
(Sidenote: I feel the need to say how impressed I was with the organisation of Islington Assembly Hall and the friendliness of their staff. I do hope it continues to be such an excellent venue for gigs in the future. http://www.islington.gov.uk/assemblyhall )
After an elating 4 song encore ending in “The Voiceless” the band come to the front of the stage to do a bow in front of an immensely happy audience. They’ve provided a very intense, energetic and professional performance which will send their fans away feeling very fulfilled, which is the best one could hope for as a ticket-holder. I hope ASIWYFA experience the same success and positive response for their passionate performance on the remaining European leg of their tour as it is much deserved.
And So I Watch You From Afar’s new album “Heirs” and merchandise is available now on their Bandcamp site as well as Sargent House website (links below), Amazon.co.uk and iTunes. Their upcoming tour dates across Europe and UK can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/andsoiwatchyoufromafar
These Secret Kings I Know
Gang (Starting Never Stopping)
7 Billion People All Alive at Once
Like a Mouse
S Is for Salamander
A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor
A Little Bit of Solidarity Goes a Long Way
Big Thinks Do Remarkable
Set Guitars to Kill