This is a fat tour. So chubby that the boys in Brother And Bones cannot remember how far around the waistline of Britain they have already travelled. They have spent weeks on the road, vanning from Travel Lodge to Travel Lodge. Now they’re on their way to Scotland via Liverpool and Newcastle. We were lucky enough to catch them playing at the Art Bar, Oxford (formerly The Bullingdon.)
The first thing that will strike you about Brother and Bones, when you see them live, is how darn rocking heavy they are. This is not some meek and feeble folk band. If anything, it’s a blues band. A whiskey soaked, hot dynamite blues band.
We know they are a terribly energetic live band on stage. Their shows are famous – full of unstoppable breech loaded force. (And hairy, masculine presence.) But their enthusiastic new super driven songs (found on the ‘To Be Alive’ E.P.) demand to be played at high volume – through immense and stupefying stacks.
‘To Be Alive’ starts with a nagging hook – as a starkly scratchy drumbeat teases the primed and ready vocal – it’s like a mongoose luring a king-cobra into a trap. The lead guitar grumbles way off … almost obsolete at first. But as the voice begins to swelter and to rise – that lightning-quick guitar starts to fluster. By the end of the song, we witness an explosion. A mad whirl of sounds. It’s as fast and dangerous as a powder loaded steel jacking hammer.
‘Raining Stone’ is a perfect mixture of passionate vocals and carefully plucked acoustic guitar-work. In Brother and Bones songs, the audience always braces for the crescendo. And when this one arrives, it’s visceral and nebulous. It’s like a bright new genie emerging from an unseen world. “I dare you to say/I believe in Love. This is all about tangled connections and complicated liaisons.
‘Lost as One’ has a gentle slope. The remorse filled lament has a slow tempo that suits its melodic prospects. On the E.P. Thomas’s confident vocal is accompanied by a bleached out piano. The lyrics cut as deep as any surgeon’s knife. And with the intimate words, the guitar rises like a gaseous cloud from a deep well of sentiment. The sounds interlock and spiral together – like free form spirits caught in a constant cyclone.
‘Long Way to Go’ has a hypnotic rhythm. Through this song, I began to understand the true magnificence of Brother And Bones. The band is like a reincarnated version of Fleetwood Mac – (from the 1979 ‘Tusk’ era.) I have often wondered why the boys don’t employ a violin in their line-up … and yet they can afford space for two sets of drums. Now I get it. The B&B songs are drum-driven.
Yes, their numbers might have fancy guitar lace-workings and ruddy faced primordial vocals. Yes, they might incorporate cataclysmic highs and painfully poignant lows. Yes, their songs are carefully crafted and can have moments of exquisite tenderness and thoughtful insight. But it is the power of those rattling rhythms (Yiannis Sahinis and Robin Howell-Sprent) that really excites you.
The percussive compositions get your adrenalin pumping like nothing else can. That’s why James Willard (guitars) bounces around the stage like a bear with his tail on fire. It’s why Si Robinson (bass) pronks like a springbok. And it’s why pocket-rocket Rich Thomas (vocals & guitars) stomps the ground with such force and vigour, you imagine he will eventually boot his way right through the floorboards.
If you like cock & hammer songs of strength and fortitude – and if you want those songs loaded with a sweet, crushing energy – then we implore you to let Brother And Bones guide you into their world.
Let their songs detonate into your life. And learn To Be Alive.
– © Neil_Mach November 2013 –