Goldheart Assembly at Islington Assembly Hall
James Dale, who together with John Herbert shares lead vocalist credit, opened the performance of the up-and-coming indie rock band on Friday night. The rest of the band is made up of drummer Nicky Francis, Jake Bowser on the keyboard and guitarist Kyle Hall. The small, local venue in north London brought together devout fans of the melancholy, soulful melodies of Goldheart Assembly for their brief return to their hometown for a one-off performance.
The evening, which also featured the brisk, country-style tunes of opening band Cattle and Cane, presented tracks from GA’s latest album Long Distance Sound Effects, and also a few new songs to be included in an upcoming third.
The band first came together thanks to their mutual love of the Beatles, while front-runners of the group James Dale and John Herbert laughingly claim to have met while working at Whipsnade Zoo. Coming from two rival bands, they decided to bury the hatchet and team up. The name comes from the Guided by Voices song Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory. Their sound, with echoes of Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, is also known for its use of unconventional instruments; their first album Wolves and Thieves was apparently recorded in an old train museum, featuring the sounds of a steam locomotive. They also claim to love the sound of slamming doors, from which they get their best drum sounds.
The evening saw the inclusion of a string quartet and brass instruments for added crunch, although the final, booming result made it somewhat difficult to discern their necessity. In fact, GA’s cool, calm style didn’t quite shine through, but the band’s crowd-pleasers such as Into Desperate Arms and Engraver’s Daughter got the biggest cheers from the audience. The trademark ethereal style was best enjoyed when performing their simpler pieces such as So Long St. Christopher.
It remains to be seen if Goldheart Assembly will reach the heights of groups like Arcade Fire or Fleet Foxes, and other bands that share the so-called “West Coast-style vocal harmonies,” but their original and innovative use of instruments and sounds promises much fertile ground.
Photos: Alejo Garcia
For further information and future events visit Goldheart Assembly’s website here.
Watch the video for Into Desperate Arms here: