Very rarely do I go into a live show blind – I usually know a handful of songs by the headlining band, or something about them has sparked my interest. I do, however, listen to friends and artists whose musical opinions I respect. And a bunch of mine have mentioned A Silent Film over the past two or three years. A few weeks ago, I saw that they were going to be playing The Evening Muse, my favorite Charlotte venue. So I figured I’d go if nothing else came up. I went. There was a line out the door. Thank goodness I actually got there early.
Sometimes, I am way late on the party train for artists. And I am the first to admit when I miss the boat. I missed the boat on A Silent Film.
Riding the wave of their recently released album Sand & Snow (pick it up for $5.99 on Amazon) and its catchy, jump-up-and-down first single “Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well,” these Brit rockers are earning high marks all around – for both the album and their dizzying live shows. And after just a few minutes on stage, they proved that they were worthy of the attention to this as-of-yet uncaptured fan.
They absolutely OWNED the stage. They were engaged with the crowd, putting on what I can best describe as a “happily intense” performance – lively and energetic, even on the slower numbers. Lead singer Robert Stevenson makes it clear from the get go that he is going to connect with the audience and whether his hands are dancing on the keys or reaching out to the crowd, he is belting out little nuggets of pop-gold with a silken, emotive vocal that is mesmerizing (it isn’t lost on me that this fella shares a name with a man who spun one of the most memorable tales of all time). Backed up by Karl Barehem’s wooing guitar tones, they had my attention after just one song.
Given a number insanely foot-tapping synth-pop songs, you have to get a lot of credit to drummer Spencer Walker. A fella that I met in the crowd said, “It sounds like there are two drummers up there!” – and that says it all pretty succinctly! He didn’t do it all alone, though. Bass player Ali Hussain was right in there with him with driving bass lines…and, he’s a DEAD RINGER for Russell Howard (any music fan worth their salt will get that reference).
These songs are no light-hearted pop filler, either. This is 3D songwriting – storytelling, reflective, and hooky all at the same time, the songs reach out and grab you, pulling you into the performance… People in the crowd danced. They sang along. They clapped at the right parts (and we all know I love some clapping!). They swayed on the slower numbers. Had I known the band better, I would have been in the middle of the crowd, dancing, singing, clapping and swaying with them… However, not knowing them didn’t keep me from getting caught up in the magic of the performance.
Consider me among the converted – I’m a fan.
(Thanks to Silversun1100 for sharing this video from a show earlier this year on YouTube.)