Bahamas – a band we had waited at last five years to see – ever since the release of their unbelievable second album, Barchords.
Islington Assembly Hall was the setting for what promised to be special evening. The ambience in the room was one that held the expectation to ride the gentle wave that Bahamas allows flow upon.
Every song of this set brought such a heart-warming and soul satisfying feeling – it almost hurt. Deft silence when the beautiful swell of each song played out, and emphatic reception at their end.
Lead singer, Afie Jurvanen, is the most charismatic frontman we have seen to date. His hauntingly honest lyrics, particularly in songs such as No Depression and No Expectations from most recent LP Earthtones, allow the clearest view through a window of his personal struggles.
Earthtones was recorded in an insanely rapid three-day studio session, with Jurvanen saying there was “no rehearsals, no charts and no rules,” a mind-set that echoed throughout tonight’s performance. They are what they are – true to themselves and true to the fans.
He spoke of their European tour, and was so appreciative of the audience – something that seemed ridiculous given it was the crowd who were being spoilt this evening.
“We should have come here first” he said about the huge tour which has taken them right across the continent and the rest of the world….this guy knows how to woo a crowd.
Bahamas are a Canadian band from Toronto, and Jurvanen talked of the riches that London’s live music scene has to offer – the amount of gigs on and bands playing in the Big Smoke really is brilliant. It was clear they were relishing having their own fork in the iron.
Throughout the set, Jurvanen rolled his shoulders with each ear-gasmic twang of his guitar. Every song is a mini-journey that pulls gently yet deeply on the heartstrings.
Bahamas have such a unique feel, they never smash and thrash their instruments, but the arrangement creates a much bigger sound that consumes you. This “feel” was heard here perfectly in Waves, All The Time and Show Me Naomi (which has a ruddy funky riff).
Backing singer Felicity Williams gives such a wonderful texture, often echoing the guitar notes and frequently taking each song and the crowd to a higher place.
Jurvanen went on to say how Bahamas would bore us with a few of their “lesser songs” – even these are well-loved by their fans – before saying “I could just play ‘Lost In The Light’ four times”.
When it did arrive, Lost In The Light made the Assembly fall into some peculiar dream state: the corwd slowly swaying, smiling and holding a huge, collective lump in the throat.
This is one remarkable band. Simplicity at their core “some bands have hundreds of guitars…not us…excuse me while mine is tuned for me – I have no clue” Jurvanen said with a smirk.
They are like a steady, well-oiled machine that acts like an emotive vacuum.
This set was summed up in how Jurvanen said “we’re now gonna have an encore…walk off stage…I really don’t know why bands do this – there is literally nothing to the side of the stage…so we’ll be over there for a minute or so, whilst you guys clap and cheer – OK?”
Tearing up the rule book and having fun.
To see an artist that comes across so finely tuned and professional being so carefree and at ease, makes this performance all the more scintillating.