London Grammar @ The Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW Australia 21/09/2017 written by Brendan Lewis.
As if London Grammar weren’t insanely popular as it is the last time they came out and captivated Aussie fans, they’re now taking us by storm yet again for the third sold out show in Sydney for this tour. This eclectic tour is to celebrate the release of the bands’ second album ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’, which is too, a beautiful thing, being full of colour, raw emotion and palate tingling indulgent sounds. Are you ready to get caught in the storm thousands of Aussie fans have been taken by, filled with a flurry of exquisite sound? Lets make it rain…
The rain starts falling lightly with lead singer Hannah in the spot light singing the opening song off 'Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’ (surprise surprise) ‘Rooting For You’. The crowd are entrancingly quiet, as Hannah’s voice shines in perfect clarity through the silence, before Dot and Dan on drums/ keyboard and bass respectively, join Hannah, making the musical rain thicker and denser. This song doesn’t start off bold and dynamic, however like the album it’s off, it really is like a storm, starts off slow and easy before building up to the eye of the storm. Luckily Hannah’s incredible voice catches all our attention right away and makes up for the lack in dynamics.
The audience (me included) go wild with applause at the stunning display of sound so far, and without a pause, the band flow straight into ‘Flickers’. This song starts with Dot on drums bringing a more up-beat consistency to the rain, before Hannah joins in with perfectly accurate vocals that are mixed stunningly to resonate throughout the venue and send shivers down our spines. Even when the song builds up to its full down pour with raised soaring vocals with Dot and Dan adding harmonies and faster drum beats, the crowd are completely still, silent and entranced.
Next up is ‘Who Am I’ off the bands latest album with its slower beat plus the whole band as still and focused as their audience. This would be around the time I’d be expecting the consistency of the rain to pick up and heighten in intensity, although acknowledging that this show and music is like a story and/or a storm, I’m expecting things will pick up steadily so my interest is not dampened yet.
With a quick and charming “thank you Sydney, it’s so good to be back!”, Dot moves over to his keyboard to start ‘Wasting My Young Years’ which brings on a massive cheer from the audience, right in my exposed ears thanks to me forgetting my ear-plugs. Ah this is the thickening of the rain I was expecting, the lights finally awake and pulsate in perfect harmony to the more up-beat and helps send Hannah’s incredibly powerful and accurate notes in waves.
Up next is ‘Stay Awake’ with Hannah swaying as if in the wind of the musical storm which adds to the over-all gradual increase of the nights energy before things start picking up.
Even as calm and respectful as this crowd is, we still have at least one person yelling things out to the band after being energised by the power in the previous song of course, and now the band say ‘Hell To The Liars’. Silence falls over the crowd yet again as the song starts soft and haunting like the recording, but unlike the recording its accompanied by an aura-like lighting behind them, accentuating the feeling of something big coming. The rain picks up dramatically as the song picks up in power with Hannah’s voice elevating to climatic soaring levels, and Dot thumping out precise beats that really feel like he’s hitting the drums with all his heart, feeling the music. This song with the lights now creeping up to a flickering flame behind the band, sends euphoric tingles all throughout my body, even now while I listen to the song as I’m writing this….. I think I pulled off a fourth-wall break here people!
Now that we’re all drenched in the down-pour of raw emotional energy, Hannah addresses the audience for her first time and shares some anecdotes of the stories surrounding the album and songs on it, before picking the rain up again for album titled track ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’ followed by ‘Hey Now’. ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’ gives a pleasant contrast to the heartwrenching power in ‘Hell To The Liars’, before it creeps up slowly yet again for ‘Hey Now’ featuring an alternate intro with some incredible sustained high notes from Hannah, which enticed the audience to sing in the musical rain.
Now it seems we’re in the eye of the storm as ‘Non Believer’ is up now. This song fills me with a warm, calming energy flowing throughout me, making me feel like I’m sitting on a rocking chair on a veranda on a rainy Sunday sunset, with a glass of whisky… like the total old fart I apparently am. With Hannah moving around the stage, waving her arms in a conductor-like manner to the crowd projecting her heart-felt energy, moving up close to us at the front while the lights sweep across the stage spreading her projected energy as the audience sings along in a harmonic echo, it emphasises the indulgent feeling for me even more.
Dan now speaks to us and tells us how Australia feels like home to them, before starting the home stretch of the show with ‘Sights’ building up to crowd pleasing climatic levels bringing a clap of thunder to the storm, followed by ‘Big Picture’ via a thank you to the support band before London Grammar. ‘Big Picture’ sustained the thunderous energy with its up beat vibe, building up to an incredibly ‘accurate to the recording’ power surge in musical energy, with Dot showing off his ability to move from the drums to the keyboard in perfect timing, and still belt out brilliant drum techniques that prompt the first clap-a-long from the fixated audience, and still features Hannah moving around the stage.
Now for the song we’ve all been waiting for, a dreary cover of ‘Hallelujah’ on an acoustic guitar… just kidding, its of course stand-out hit ‘Strong’ off their debut album. The venue is filled with thousands of mobile phone lights resembling glistening stars on a rainy night, with the entire crowd singing along to Hannah who moves around the stage like a majestic beauty afoot a starry sky, pausing her singing at intervals to let the audience take over as well as singing alternate notes to the recorded song that the crowd are singing along to, adding a harmonious layer of sound to this massive hit. Surprisingly the lighting for this song is lacking complimenting quality, maybe the lighting person is as entranced as we are? No matter, the musical energy well and truly makes up for the loss of lighting.
Just when you thought the storm had passed, the audience stamp their feet and cheer the band back on stage for three more offerings, ‘Bones Of Ribbons’ featuring more appealing strobe lighting, flashing in-sync to Dot’s awesome drumming, ‘Oh Woman Oh Man’ with a fancy alternative intro and improvised soaring vocals, and finally ‘Metal And Dust’. This last song brings the storm to a peak, with a flurry of psychedelic lighting, Hannah moving around the stage like lightning in a storm cloud, mobile phones galore recording this loved track, and of course, what would a good ol’ all-out sweaty rock gig be without a drum solo? ….wait, hang on? This was a great finish to the show and understandably made us all in the audience go wild with excitement!
Exquisite, harmonious, spine-tingling! Its little wonder why these guys are as successful as they are, and un-like many ‘pop’ bands out there that fade out of fashion, I suspect London Grammar are here to stay and I keenly await more of their albums and concerts!