Tuesday, April 27, 2004

As old as the world... 

I've just returned from a very fine concert in London, a joint headline by The Handsome Family and Willard Grant Conspiracy. WGC were the better of the two, more technically proficient and with more layers to their songs, so that the listener could easily became completely immersed. Their songs were also more traditional than THF's, often adaptations of 19th century American folk and gospel songs, with an almost orchestral feel at times.

THF were simpler, more shambolic... and perhaps more fun. Rennie Sparks of THF certainly made the night, with completely insane interjections between every song. Some examples: 'I've come to the realisation that in order to play the banjo really well you have to kill a few people first' (unfortunately a crime of which she must be entirely innocent, if her playing is anything to go by); 'I wanted to write a song about the romance of ants, where the kings and queens fly into the air to mate. But instead we wrote a song about murder in the woods. It's got ants in it, though... I tried!'

Death, failed love and snake-handling bouts of divine intervention were the general subjects of the night, as they should be in all concerts with any pretension to be 'country' (Johnny Cash's last album playing between the sets made sure there was no let up in tone), and WGC certainly weren't going to upset that vibe, finishing as they did with 'the saddest song we know', called The Suffering Song: 'The suffering's going to come to everyone someday'. Beautiful.

Same concert plays again tomorrow night in reverse order at the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre. Highly recommended to anyone with a bit of time on their hands.

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