The Magnetic North at Islington Assembly Hall
The Magnetic North released their debut record Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North in May 2012. On the 25th June they appeared at Islington Assembly Hall to run through their album.
Prior to The Magnetic North taking the stage, the audience was shown a short film about the concepts behind the new album and their time spent recording in Orkney itself. While the film was interesting it seemed to drag on and it was hard to avoid the feeling that the audience were being subjected to a director’s cut that couldn’t be turned off. After this, there was an unnecessarily long wait between the end of the film and the start of the show.
It was immediately clear that Hannah Peel has a very powerful voice that works well with the orchestral and choir segments. The underlying narrative, feeding from the Orkney story of Betty Corrigall’s suicide, came through oddly on stage. This was mostly due to the reordered track list that produced a sense of build up over several songs, which didn’t really go anywhere. The song Old Man of Hoy was one of two high points, with bombastic orchestral highs that contrasted very nicely with the music box driven lows. The Black Craig can only be described as grand! It filled the room with a very dramatic and brooding sound, like some giant theme song to accompany an equally giant film scene. Honourable mention goes to Netherton’s Teeth, for which Simon Tong and Hannah Peel abandoned the microphones and performed the song acoustically, still managing to come across clearly over the music – impressive stuff.
The experience could have done with a shorter intro piece, if not cutting it out entirely, and a much shorter interlude. The music had some definite high points, but overall felt almost safe, as if they hadn’t really followed in the footsteps of Betty Corrigall and thrown themselves into the proverbial sea. Save for a few songs, there was nothing that really ground against the flesh, although it seemed like it should have.
Photos: Allie Suwanrumpha
For further information about The Magnetic North and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Bay of Skaill here: