Review: The Antlers at Bush Hall

So good I have to review it immediately. I was so hugely looking forward to this show, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Absolutely wonderful. So prepare yourself for a poorly structured, super excitable post about my evening of JOY.

I headed down to the Bush Hall early. The show had sold out and I was hoping for there to be a spare ticket for a friend, and there was. Epic win #1. Firstly, I think it’s amazing the band sold out Bush Hall. I’m so happy for them. They completely deserve every bit of success that comes their way, and it was such a joy to see them play to a packed out room. There’s nowhere in the world that I would’ve rather have been that evening. It just makes me happy that people are hearing this amazing band who, really, are something so special.

The doors opened and Peter and Darby where there. I can’t write enough good things about this band, really. They are such warm and welcoming people and it was so lovely to see them again. They wanted some dinner and I told them about the Nando’s down the road… they offered to take my Nando’s stamp cards to get stamps towards free chicken. How lovely is that!? They are such genuinely lovely people, and I love them hugely.

The support was Norway’s I Was A King. They were nice. I was just terribly impatient and wanted to go straight to The Antlers. I do have to say, the guitarist was incredibly fast at changing guitar strings. She was like lightning! Good work, that lady. So finally, it was actually time for The Antlers and the lights went down. I was ridiculously excited. I think anyone who has seen me this week would have had me say ‘WOOO ANTLERS!’ at them at some point.

They opened with Kettering. I’m trying to articulate just how magical everything is live, and it’s really difficult. They are such a brilliant band; it’s the whole thing. Peter’s vocals are so powerful and beautiful, everything Darby adds is spectacular, and Michael is an excellent drummer- and they all play so well together. You can’t fault them.

From Kettering they went to Sylvia. It is such a beautiful song. The loud parts are crushing, the quiet parts are heart breakingly beautiful. The way Peter sings every word with so much soul and emotion… it made me want to cry. It was so wonderful. He extends some words and screams others… it gives you chills as he howls ‘let me do my job!’. Towards the end of the song there is a pause… and then the music and vocals come back in. Peter slows all the words down and sings ‘Sylvia, I only talk when you are sleeping. That’s when I tell you everything, and imagine that somehow you’re going to hear me.’ It couldn’t be any more perfect.

Then, after Sylvia, in came the lullaby-esque introduction to Bear. The keyboard part is just so beautiful. It was SO BEAUTIFUL! (I have resorted to shouty caps, really sorry). The only word for it is ‘swoon’. I was swooning. It was just overwhelming. Watching these three people make such gorgeous sounds… I felt so lucky. It really is so special. How can three people make such wonderful sounds that emote such passion and feeling, that translates and pulls the audience in like that? You can’t help but feel so connected and close to the songs. That is something truly special.

Bear led right into Thirteen. It just completely washes over you and sucks you in, and then Peter and Darby sing ‘pull me out, pull me out, can’t you stop this all from happening?‘. It killed me, I was ready to bawl. There’s such a depth to all their songs, I wonder if people could fully appreciate the power of their songs if they hadn’t heard the record. I love Thirteen. It breaks my heart. I think one of my new life goals is to hear them play it with Sharon live. So much goodness there. If you do want a taster of Thirteen with Sharon, NYC Taper has a recording of the album launch show with Sharon singing. It’s wonderful. I love the version with Peter and Darby singing too, it’s brilliant.

Next came Atrophy and Shiva. Both stunning. Shiva just sounds so powerful live. Just the crashing, raw energy is stunning. When Peter yells ‘the sensation was scissors and too much to scream‘… the way he sang it was ridiculously wonderful. Two came next… it has such a gorgeous opening. It was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. What I loved so much about this show is that it felt like the record, like you were on a journey. It all flowed so wonderfully. The drums in that song are particularly amazing. Yeah, I’m not going to list all my favourite parts of that song (I just tried), because I would basically be writing out the lyrics and saying how I love every single part. Perfect.

Next came two songs that I hadn’t heard the band play live before. First, it was Wake. It was such a joy to hear. Wake is so beautiful. Peter has such fantastic control of his voice. When he sang ‘when your helicopter came and tried to lift me up I put it’s rope round my neck‘ I just died. It was so beautiful. Hospice is such a special record, lyrically, it’s mind blowing. It’s written in such a powerful way, you can’t help but be sucked into this heartbreaking story. Wake is the second to last track on the record, and you feel like you’ve been there through it all, and you just want to cry. Musically, they’ve just made it so that the guitar, keys, drums, everything, reinforces the power of the words and, all the little interludes and instrumental parts really speak in their own right. It was so special to hear that song live. There’s such a glimmer of hope, as the drums picks up ‘I’m letting people in’. It touches my heart. 

After Wake they left the stage and, after lots of cheering, they returned for Epilogue. One of my favourite things ever. I had never heard them do this before. It was mind blowing. A’cappella opening. A cappella! YES! I had tears in my eyes. The drums, and when the tambourine came in… it was like someone tapping on my heart! Michael is so modest, later in the evening I said how wonderful that part was and he said thanked me and said ‘oh, I gotta do something back there’. He’s such a great drummer. Through the whole show, the single line that got me most was ‘but now it’s not a cancer ward, we’re sleeping in a morgue’. If I wasn’t actively trying not to cry like a baby, I would have. I had a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, it’s so powerful. That line really got me. It’s the end of a journey, it’s over. It’s amazing that Peter could take such a destructive experience and turn it into such a powerful, special record. Then after the quiet start, when things get loud and Peter raises his voice… it just is even more devastatingly perfect.

And there you have it. Quite possibly my favourite show of 2009, no band has ever touched my heart like that.

Whatever you do, don’t miss their show on March 3rd. I love this band so much. I want everyone to get to see them. If you like the record you’d have to be insane to miss them. They are nothing less than phenomenal. Brilliant. Get Hospice if you haven’t, fall in love with it, go see them live. I think there’s some really bright things in store for The Antlers, and they truly deserve it. So much love for that band and their beautiful music.


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One Response to Review: The Antlers at Bush Hall

  1. nyctaper November 26, 2009 at 6:09 am #

    This is a such an amazingly heartfelt review and captures so well the feeling of emotion that this band can create. Thank you for your wonderful words.

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