Tunng at Heaven
For a band in their tenth year together, Tunng retain a curious and endearing disposition on stage. Frontman Mike Lindsay does his best to stimulate the crowd, though his reticent and infrequent leaps and yelps don not immediately convince. Gradually, however, the visible bond between Lindsay and Becky Jacobs et al does. manifest itself, much to the benefit of the music.
With this onstage harmony present, an evening with Tunng progresses to become revelatory and demonstrates just how significantly their sound has evolved over their five albums. Early on at Heaven (situated next to Charing Cross station and subsequently acoustically defined by its sloped façade) they play The Roadside which played live is an entirely different beast to the version on And Then We Saw Land. This sentient rendition breathes new life into the song and relies on every facet of the band. Jacobs’ voice dominates and a nascent sleepy song is transformed through a potpourri of manipulated sounds; claps, synths and who knows what else combine to create a discordant but satisfying track. At times the band’s unified sound chills the audience as brief and perfectly timed pauses hold a wonderful pregnancy. This is the kind of song a crowd yearns for.
The Roadside justifies Tunng’s place in folktronica, as does Tale from Black, which is as bizarre a mix of interactive material and soothing guitars live as it is on their first album Mother’s Daughter and Other Songs. Yet at other times, their live music makes that pigeonholing seem gratuitous at best. The Village, off their latest album Turbines, is the most accomplished track of the night. Barely six months old, it already has the feel of an enduring classic. A more controlled and provocative use of computers is evident, and it’s easy to see this becoming a mainstay of their act for years to come.
Representing a divergent catalogue of songs in such a concentrated length of time can be a difficult task. Fortunately for Tunng, their ability to do this well is augmented by consistency. Their lyrics are forever alluding to progression – no-one can expect dull or comforting familiarity from a band who sing phrases like “run for an answer”, “all our thoughts were lost” and “she knows the thrill of the chase” with such ease. Tunng may be intent on continuing the experimentation but, if the crowd at Heaven were anything to go by, they’ll have a willing fan base throughout.
Photos: Alejo Garcia
For further information and future events visit Tunng’s website here.
Watch the video for The Village here: