Alx and Hanging the Star delight Bush Hall
Described as a “collective which could be seen more as an experience rather than a group”, my curiosity levels went into overdrive when I heard that Alx and Hanging the Star were playing in London’s Bush Hall on Friday night. With critics comparing them to Mercury Award winner PJ Harvey and acclaimed prog rock experimentalists Jethro Tull and Sigur Rós, I envisioned something both remarkable and, suffice to say, unprecedented.
The capacities of this venue never cease to amaze me. As its walls are adorned with elaborate plasterwork and its ceiling lined with six enormous chandeliers, versatility certainly wouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind when describing it. However, over the last decade, I’ve seen performances by artists as diverse as Scissor Sisters, Lily Allen and Kings of Leon, but, bizarrely, have never called into question the venue’s suitability.
The case was no different for Alx and Hanging the Star. When lead vocalist, Alx, took to centre stage, accompanied by a musical ensemble including Jimmy Norden on percussion, Adam King and Micheal Winawer on guitars and Paul Silver on keyboard, it seemed like she had single-handedly transformed this celebrated venue into an environment akin to her own living room. Composed and self-assured, Alx chatted throughout the night, joking with other band members and narrating anecdotes to the audience about their time spent preparing for the show.
Remember the Idiot was easily the highlight of their set, and the exceptional musical competency of the band deserves a particular commendation. Met with rapturous applause, it was easy to see that I wasn’t alone in my appreciation. Alx’s forte is undoubtedly her songwriting ability, and Catalyst and Blow to the Head both demonstrate a lyrical complexity and emotional insight that could be placed in the same oeuvre of work as the much-revered Kate Bush.
There is certainly room in the market for a collective like this. The atmosphere in the Bush Hall felt like a giant family get-together, with Alx and fellow band members happy to mingle with the audience before their set. Stylistically, the group’s performance veered towards the vibrancy and theatricality displayed by the brass collective Orkestra del Sol, while Alx’s vocal talents portrayed a maturity similar to k.d lang or Tori Amos. It’s clear to see that Alx and Hanging the Star certainly have a lot to work with, and at this early stage in their musical career, it’s fair to say that a starry future lies ahead.