21st January | SWX
Photos: Josh Adam Jones
The first thing surely noted by any gig-goer frequenting Lord Huron’s show at SWX on Sunday night is their set. The back of the stage is decorated with angular geometric lights that changed colour and shade throughout the set, making shadows of the artists on stage. This creates a rather ethereal tone to a set that already had mystery surrounding a band who haven’t released music since 2015.
Lord Huron’s set is complimented by the support of Flyte, a British band whose harmonies are executed so beautifully and musically that they do not appear to even need their instruments. Their reputation as a band that are close-knit friends is confirmed by their position on stage side by side. The well-spoken foursome enchant the already full room with renditions of catchy but beautiful tracks like ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Faithless.’
Lord Huron’s entrance is spectacular, with darkness enveloping the big room in SWX as a drummer slips onto stage. A tense drumbeat commences, as other members slide similarly into position. The six figures are littered across the stage with the founder of the band, Ben Schneider, taking centre stage. His figure, framed by the lights behind him, encapsulates his position as commander of this band. The audience are treated to little glances of his face when the house lights infrequently rise, allowing us to see his sweeping fringe and youthful face.
Chat is sparse, with Ben complimenting the Bristol crowd and confirming promises of new music during the set. He sweetly proclaims, ‘no more jibber-jabber,’ before continuing his performance.
Instead, the intervals between songs are filled with instrumental pieces that form transitions between songs, making it (at times) hard to differentiate between where one stops and another begins. This is similarly replicated in a cinematic, elongated version of ‘Ends of the Earth.’ Another particularly mystical highlight is when bassist, Miguel Breseño orchestrates the air with the use of a theremin under a bright spotlight. At other points, Lord Huron utilise sound effects of the wilderness, like the crackling of a fire or the hum of dawn animals. This only solidifies the image of this band as one inspired by nature, and adds another dimension to their diverse show.
Older classics like ‘She Lit a Fire,’ ‘Time to Run’ and ‘The Night We Met’ are met with feverous excitement and rapturous applause by the crowd. The setlist also features those expected newbies. They are iconically folk-inspired and beautiful, but perhaps more haunting than the previous records. A particular favourite is ‘Wait By The River,’ which has a slight 1950s feel, similar to a melancholic lullaby as lyrically, Ben paces without his guitar, rhyming his way through wondering what will happen when a meeting is not completed.
For all of the slower parts of the set, the Lord Huron members certainly balance this with louder, rockier sections, the guitarists adding weight to the studio version of many of the tracks. This climaxes with a weighty instrumental at the ending of the encore to ‘Fool For Love,’ not dissimilar in volume and dramatic intensity to a heavier rock band.