Friday night. Very bitter cold weather. Cold pint of Sheffield Porter and here we go…
The Listeners was not in duo form for the night, so it was the sole responsibility of Emma Thorpe to carry the sounds of the band. These sounds are fingerpicked notes, swiftly moving over the fret and emanating folky waves full of longing and introspection. A mix between the honesty of Sandy Denny and a stripped down version of Mazzy Star (still on full dreamy mode) are what this band seem to thrive to do.
The set of Tomorrow we sail was strange. Before they took the stage, it was even money that the set of Last Harbour would be gloomy and potent. It seems these upstarts wanted to upstage them, as their four song set (they are long tracks) was extremely gloomy, tapping into the saturnine aura of a long Celtic dirge. It can be slightly overbearing if you’re not inclined to the gloomier sounds of life, but if it is your inclination, then you were up for a treat. Their last song was definitely their finest hour and you could feel a slight chill in your bones when the lead singer expelled a demon from his body in the form of a chilling scream.
I’ve never seen The Last Harbour live, although I’m quite a fan of their music (a combination of dark Americana and a never used soundtrack to Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast trilogy). Always looking quite dapper, the band exudes darkness and sadness, but not in a way where you wallow in self-pity, no, it’s more like acknowledging that sadness will be present in your life and the band embraces it, celebrates it and possibly has a few pints with it.
Last Harbour in a live environment. How to describe it? Imagine an eventful week, where it’s not the days what you remember, but individual moments that ingrain themselves in your live. Such type of moments is exemplified by the rendition of ‘Lights’, from 2010’s Volo, a track I consider one of the quintessential sounds of Last Harbour. The moment is pure magic and the lines between emotions blur, creating a gust of wind that blows a few souls and grafts them into the still-haunted walls of The Shakepeare.
Other moments included tracks for the recent release, Your heart, it carries the sound (our review). The set ended with ‘Replacements’ and it was a moment of quiet solemnity that yielded a wall of sound that explodes beautifully. It’s an intense way to finish your set, but never let it be said that this band doesn’t show a stylish panache.
Well done, Wagon Wheel Media, another great line up in one of the city’s best pubs.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López