This is the third time I have witnessed the Tall Ships live show, and it's undoubtedly the best.
The first time was on what I can only assume was the Everything Touching release tour in October 2012, which featured the band's early material heavily; the second time in July 2014 was something of a transitional time with a lot of new material in the set, and I sadly can't remember which of those tracks made the cut for the new record; and this time seems like a celebration of the band's rebirth as a formidable alt-rock machine.
Gone are the obvious quirks, and in their place are the sweeping soundscapes and powerful emotions which were only laced through the band's original material. Keep a look out from my upcoming review of new record Impressions (out March 31st), in which I plan to cover that evolution in depth, so I won't preempt myself here.
The show itself was essentially transcendent. Swells in music and perfectly timed combinations of smoke and light helped to elevated the atmosphere to euphoric. The room wasn't quite at bursting, and I don't believe it was sold out, but everyone in attendance was treated to a heck of a show.
There were three obvious gears throughout the night, with 'Ode to Ancestors' providing the slowest one, with a solo vocal and keys opening, building into an endearing yet undeniably geeky love song, and one of the band's most charming creations. The second was the progressive mode, characterised by new tracks 'Home' and 'Day By Day', in which the band command the evening with the dynamics of a post-rock performance, perfectly balancing the loud and quiet. Finally, there's the party mode, which inspired a powerful rendition of the classic 'T=0' as well as an aggressive performance of recent single 'Meditations On Loss', in which strong vocals descended into hair-raising and impassioned shouts.
A hard decision between 'Vessels' and 'Plate Tectonics' for a closer was abruptly smashed when defiant shouts of "One more tune!" ensured the curfew was stretched far enough to accommodate both. In recent weeks I've been infatuated with <em>Impressions</em>, but following this performance my musical heart has been reminded of Tall Ships' greater beauty and talent.
They are truly wonderful, and you should listen to them if you haven't before, and don't delay.