The small-ish crowd at Village Underground, still in coats and huddled from the cold, are in for a right old treat tonight. Many here are undoubtedly fans of at least one half of the collaboration that forms The Revival Hour – DM Stith and The Earlies’ John Mark Lapham – although, as it’s their first gig in London, no one really knows what to expect.
From first note, there’s not a scrap of disappointment. The noise is massive, even in this small corner of an otherwise sizable venue. Different dimensions of sound come at you from every corner, from vintage soul through to dark electro, supported beautifully by the Hour’s band – raucous percussion, booming bass and keys, bringing waves of Hammond and a sprinkling of Rhodes.
Opener ‘Control’ marries a dark melody with jangling bells and shows off John Mark’s ability to create brooding, moody electro wonderfully. Vocally, it’s pretty understated for DM, but he soon gets to show off his amazing voice in songs like the stupidly brilliant ‘Hold Back’, where a splash of sampled horns and backing vocals courtesy of Serafina Steer transport you to some kind of grand 1920s New York ball room hosting a Motown with a twist night. The size of the room does not matter tonight – we are engulfed by this noise and it takes over everything. It’s just excellent.
‘Pyre’ is also lapped up by fans of the solo work of DM - who cut his teeth under the wings of Psych-folk loon and genius Sufjan Stevens. His haunting falsetto cascades over slow, but manic, beats and rumbles, the high notes like wind whistling through a stone hallway.
‘I've Eyed the Beast’, another song with a sinister edge, fills the room with a chorus like a murder of cawing crows and a bass like an asthmatic Beelzebub. It’s dark, yet strangely uplifting while ‘Run Away’ strays in a different direction with more of a mod pop feel in its verses.
The set ends on a massive high with ‘Beehive’ from the band’s already-released EP 'Clusterchord'. It’s epic, with masses of space-guitar in your face – a perfect closer before DM treats us to a solo encore of ‘Thanksgiving Moon’.
Tonight is a triumph, full of big sounds, beautiful and heart-breaking melodies and some pretty special talent, including the sweet English tones and harp of Serafina Steer.
With an EP behind them and album 'Scorpio Little Devil' coming in January, there should be plenty of opportunity to fill your life with The Revival Hour. Go do it.
Words by Gemma Hampson