Entry into Ding Dong Lounge was smooth, thankfully it wasn’t raining in the queue outside but the make-shift cloakroom left much to be desired; it was more painful than the experience of trying to get my pen licence in primary school. There was a pushy photographer in a crowd of backpack-clinging punters, and one gentleman standing in front of me whose dad had happily texted him that he was watching ‘The Expendables’ on DVD (one can see a lot on a strangers phone these days given some are the size of a dinner plate). But I digress, I hadn’t turned up for any other reason than to hear and see my favourite album of the year (so far) brought to life.
Opening acts Japanese Wallpaper and Downtime DJs played to a receptive crowd, but there was little room to breathe once the lights dimmed and SOHN (Christopher Taylor) appeared draped in black amid a screen of artificial smoke.
For an album was recorded entirely at night the venue and set up was fitting; dark, intimate and sparse. Black was the basis, with millions of flecks of coloured light creating separate moods. This gig was the last of a whirlwind 3 month world tour.
It’s nigh on impossible to fathom that Tremors could have sounded any better live. But it can and it did. It was louder, more powerful, more emotive, and less constricted to time. How Christopher manages to channel his emotions through his voice is something to behold. Being treated to an acapella rendition of ‘Tempest’ was one of many highlights. I didn’t know whether to shed a tear and hug the nearest person or get a drink, stand back and appreciate that I was witnessing some sort of greatness. Thankfully for the nearest person I chose the latter.
The set began with the measured ‘Ransom Notes’ before ‘Fool’ and the title track, whilst ‘Oscillate’ had the crowd moving a little more and by the time ‘Artifice’ was thumping through the speakers there wasn’t a still body in the venue. Before the breakdown in the last song of the set, ‘Lessons’, it was foretold “it’s going to get really nasty” (Christopher’s words, not mine) and he wasn’t wide of the mark. Following considerable applause, SOHN jumped back on stage for an encore of ‘The Wheel’. After that the stage was once again vacated of his hooded mystery.
Christopher could make a dime by bottling and selling his authenticity to acts of today who rely heavily on endorsements in order to keep their respective brands afloat. On second thought, perhaps not, it’s easier to separate the wind from the chaff that way. Sure, the stage looked a little economical, but it was personal and lively. That said, I’m expecting a bigger venue and production next time SOHN tours our shores.
Christopher’s strength lies in not just the power in his voice but the sheer passion and honesty in his writing. Hearing SOHN live was nothing but a privilege and a hauntingly beautiful experience.
Treat yourself this weekend by picking up a copy of Tremors via iTunes, and if you already have it, put it on right now.