Wooden Arms at St Pancras Old Church
There is a point at which, watching Wooden Arms, a self-styled chamber-alternative-folk six-piece band in the gorgeously intimate setting of St Pancras Old Church, it dawns on you that this might be the poshest band you’ve ever seen.
The guitarist massages his instrument as though soothing it to sleep; the drummer uses timpani mallets; they have a cellist! Introducing one song, the pianist/lead singer describes it as being about “your 20s and going fucking crazy, because in your 20s you can get away with it”; although try as you might, you’ll struggle to visualise any scenario in which this collective of very respectable musicians might have “gone crazy”. But they’re really, very good.
The songs (or more accurately, pieces), pulled mostly from new album Tide, are exquisitely crafted, with a seldom seen restraint and lightness of touch that forgoes any ego or individual virtuosity. They have the cinematic scope of a band like Sigur Ros, undulating with varying textures and intricate melodies that dance around one another like leaves caught in an autumn breeze.
The percussionist works in masterfully subtle, trip-hop inflected rhythms and flourishes reminiscent of Portishead, while the male vocalists sound not at all dissimilar to Damien Rice. The pianist’s witty interludes (channeling his inner Russell Brand) have a tendency to jar with the luscious hypnotism of the orchestrations, but he wins the compliant audience round without much effort. The only minor setback is the lack of a bassist to provide that sturdy terra firma from which the pieces can take fuller flight to their enchanting crescendo.
Overall, it is rare to find an up-and-coming band with this level of symphonic sophistication and maturity, and although being posh enough to make Coldplay look like Oasis, they have a bewitching quality to them that promises many great things to come.
For further information about Wooden Arms and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Tide here: