Husky live at the Islington
Husky live at the Islington

Husky – The Islington, London (9th November 2015) – LIVE REVIEW

This Husky article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.

The Islington is possibly the smallest venue in London – if not the whole world. But this adds to its charm; hot and stuffy, lined with lush red curtains, filled with music lovers. On the occasion of Australian band Husky’s performance, the crowd unsurprisingly contained a majority of expats, though there was also a British contingent in attendance.

Support act, British Wildwood Kin, comprising two sisters and their cousin, provided an all-girl folk/country sound that seems quite popular these days. Their harmonies were the highlight of their set, with perfect pitch and control and their voices melding well together. They also managed some good dynamic ups and downs despite their minimal instrumentation.

As the two members of Husky took to the stage, the audience looked around wondering where everyone else was. But as the lead singer/guitarist and keyboardist of the band took their places onstage and started playing ‘Ruckers Hill’, it seemed that perhaps this was it. By the time they got into their third song ‘Tidal Wave’, it was apparent that just the two of them was more than enough to carry their performance. In fact, this performance had so much more to it than some of their full band performances, there was something raw and emotional about it that really worked well.

They moved seamlessly between upbeat folk songs, ballads, and darker moody tracks. ‘Dark Sea’ legitimately portrayed the brooding nature of the recorded version, but was brought to life in a way that was entirely mind-blowing, considering there were only two people onstage. They used their instruments well, with the guitar often sounding quite percussive and the keyboard adding depth to many of the songs – a piano backing in some, and synth effects in others. Frontman Husky Gawenda is a true story teller; his vocals are always perfect and the harmonies added by keyboardist Gideon Preiss really boosted the overall sound.

Nonchalantly, Preiss broke out into a mesmerising classical piano intro that eventually melded into their spine-tingling hit ‘The Woods’. He looked an unlikely piano aficionado, his backwards cap and unruly hair adding an interesting juxtaposition to the sophisticated music he was playing.

Their onstage banter was engaging and hilarious and they had the room in fits of laughter between each song as they told stories of their recent brush with UK immigration, and their last 6 months touring. Perhaps due to the fact that this gig was the very last in a long stint of overseas touring, the performance was very relaxed, and everyone just seemed to be having a good time and enjoying the whole experience.

Unfortunately, the only track that suffered a little from this stripped back version of the band was their tremendous song ‘I’m Not Coming Back’, which they played, predictably, as the set ender. While still being a strong song, it definitely missed the drums that drive it forward and usually provide its purpose.

Since they had intended to play a Bob Dylan song as a single encore to finish the night, multiple enthusiastic requests for their track ‘Animals & Freaks’ caught the duo off guard. Amazingly, they decided to appease everyone by playing it, with many apologies for how bad it would sound considering it had been out of their repertoire for some time. But their worries were unnecessary, as the resulting song was rich, and sounded as if they had played it every day of their life; not a mistake was made, and they brought so much more to the performance than the album version could ever have managed. The intended encore ‘Tomorrow Is a Long Time’ was an enjoyable ending to the night, with the two standing together and singing into one microphone, crooning in true Dylan-esque style.

There is something to be said for intimate gigs, and this one in particular benefited from the small nature of the venue, the friendliness of the crowd, the witty banter of the band, and a type of music that transcends all barriers.

GS Husky - The Islington, London (9th November 2015) - LIVE REVIEW