With Wye Oak and Wild Palms
Cold War Kids Live

On encore shoo-in, 'We Used To Vacation' , Nathan Willet blithely eulogises “ Still things could be worse, natural disasters on the evening news” . Indeed they could, as most current news watching – rising taxes, falling employment, crumbling middle-eastern power bases, and natural disasters – induces a healthy perspective for other lesser quibbles, an apropos sentiment for Cold War Kids London show.

Support came first from multi-tasking Baltimore twosome, Wye Oak, who struck a pleasant rapport with the sparse early crowd. The distorted guitar crescendos and gentle bridge of 'Holy Holy', and pounding drum beat and lamenting organ of new release 'Civilian', the highlights of a short but delightful folk tinged big beat set.

Next, more noise but less sound from the angular wave of London-based Wild Palms, who played the role of apocryphal next big things to perfection, coming and going without a word, the staunch, echoey guitar sound, demonstrated in a handful of tracks from their forthcoming debut album 'Until Spring', raising enough ardor to suggest perseverance despite the tiresome sullen demeanour.

Then the main fare. LA based foursome, Cold War Kids, have an affinity for bluesy tales of the proletariat, rooted in deep south soul, a genre mangling mix wonderfully explored in the unhinged, and nakedly irreverent, debut album, 'Robbers and Cowards', tempered in the darker narrative of 'Loyalty to Loyalty', and corralled in the more melodic values of latest offering, 'Mine is Yours'.

Opening with the vamped up basslines of 'Royal Blue', the band eased into a diverse set, vacillating the crowd between raw inclusive glee and pleasant indifference. In their best moments, and there were several, the band frequently led gospel-inspired sing-a-longs, displayed a penchant for the dramatic slow chorus, and released Jeff Buckley owed melodies.

In 'Hang Me Up To Dry', Willett swaggered amid cleft guitars, 'Hospital Beds' induced a 1000 strong hand clap, to the belligerent vocals 'Put Out The Fire On Us', while the piano-stomping 'St John' propelled a cathartic hootenanny to every corner of the impossibly steep, very red, former theatre.

Very occasionally, amid so many refreshing arrangements and striking vocals, there was a lack of entry points for all but the ardent listener, but those moments were sparse, and Willet and Co were quick to return to accessible rousers in time for a mood-lifting finale. A minor quibble, and in the grand scheme, such things matter not. I mean have you seen the news?

Words by Simon Owen


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