Mounties at XOYO
The concept of the supergroup was first carved into the slate of rock history during the British blues explosion of the 60s, led by bands such as Cream and Blind Faith. Fitting, then, that Mounties (from Canada, naturally) have chosen London as the first stop on a tour that sees them introduce their combined powers to Europe for the first time.
With a core comprising Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat on lead vocal and synths, Ryan Dahle of Limblifter on guitar, and singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman on drums, Mounties bring a wealth of live experience to the stage. From the psychedelic wig-out of opener Pretty Respectable, the small but appreciative crowd lining the front of XOYO’s cavernous cellar room are treated to a set showcasing well-crafted songs and creative instrumentation, underpinned by vocal harmonies and driving rhythms pounded out by Workman with drumsticks as thick as redwood logs.
The show isn’t completely without niggles, and the band struggle to set sound levels through the first couple of tunes. Perhaps it’s down to the mix (or the fact that the sound from the stage echoes around the unoccupied space at the rear of the room), but Carey Pratt’s additional percussion is seldom discernible. Tonight, his shakers, cowbells and other items one might find in a primary school’s music cupboard embody the same indulgent, proggy tendency that sees some numbers descend into noodling improvisations during which this audience’s attention seems to wander. That said, the same approach pays off when innovative new ground is broken, such as on the trippy space-jazz odyssey Made Up My Mind.
After smoothing out those early technical wrinkles, Bays and his band mates are noticeably more settled and confident as the show continues. Their biggest hit to date, Headphones sees the frontman strutting the full length of the stage and wielding his keyboard at unlikely angles, sending one particular fan into raptures that earn him a fist-bump from his idol. The band leaves to hearty applause before returning to offer the atmospheric Tokyo Summer by way of an encore. “That’s about all the songs we have” proclaims Bay as he departs once more. The reaction of the audience tonight suggests there’s definitely a market for more.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about Mounties and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Headphones here: