Howling Bells at Scala
Some artists have an explosive breakthrough (but may fall in decline afterwards) while others need time to establish themselves if they ever hope to stand out from the endless multitude of competitors. This could be the case for Howling Bells. Perhaps, though, this is simply not meant to be.
Howling Bells have been on the scene for a few years now but they are still unable to gather large masses for their gigs. Scala is not exactly a big venue, and yet still the band were unable to fill the small space. It is a pity: the band have some good material and play well live, but for some reason there’s a lingering feeling that something is missing.
Hands down, Juanita Stein (lead singer/guitarist) stole the scene with her sweet aggressiveness. Stein is an unusual rock chick: less fierce but still very charismatic and grabbing all eyes. Almost immediately we get the impression that she could be a great solo performer, which was swiftly confirmed during Blessed Night: Stein’s vocals were impressive yet seemed unsuitable for that kind of music. A waste, if anything.
Fans showed their enthusiasm by applauding at the end of every song but a few too many sounded a bit too similar. Paris and Possessed, from the new record Heartstrings, featured nice vocals, a clear sound and a good tempo but nothing more than that. A Ballad for the Bleeding Hearts was a quiet, blues-infected track in which Stein’s voice was reminiscent of Lana del Rey’s. On the same wave was Your Love, an electro-atmospheric piece.
It was, however, with songs like Cities Burning Down and Setting Sun, with their interesting riffs, melodies and rhythms that both the band and the audience looked more involved. The Wilderness and Slowburn kept the crowd happy with a similar upbeat pace. Everyone was visibly enjoying this part of the gig, which was nice to see.
The short encore unfortunately failed to maintain the hype: the wrong base started and when Paper Heart finally kicked in, the nice acoustic tune became a little soporific to say it was the end of the show. A somewhat disappointing experience, but a good effort.
Photos: Helen Parish
For further information about Howling Bells and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Slowburn here: