The Veils at Islington Assembly Hall
London based five-piece The Veils are quite an underrated band, as they go. Emerging on stage through the dark lights at the beautiful Islington Assembly Hall, the group are quick to assemble themselves, while lead singer Finn Andrews thanks the crowd, showing his gratitude early on.
While a male-recorded version of Nina Simone’s Sinnerman plays in the background, the set opens with Here Come the Dead from latest album Total Depravity. As the bass guitar and drums reverberate around, the guitars produce an electrifying sound that echoes all the way to the back of the venue, thanks to the perfect acoustics and sound technicians.
Though seemingly shy and reserved at times, there is an unmistakable rock’n’roll demeanour to Andrews, who shakes his guitar strings with what is referred to as a bottleneck, the attitude matching the music. Axolotl is a hard-edged track defined by the frontman’s rough vocals, wailing and emotional, half talking in slow rap style, but reverting to singing. With Do Your Bones Glow At Night? they take a calmer approach, the steady guitar strumming and drum beats producing a softer melody, with the addition of gentle pre-recorded female vocals. Yet it’s clear the musicians can’t resist the harder Americana, the powerful clash of instruments culminating in a finale of angst. Hit single Low Lays the Devil is another example of Andrews’s preoccupation with religious undertones, of which he traverses through his lyrics. Pop-like in its nature, the composition is milder, producing a calmer approach to the alternative rock sound.
A highlight of the evening, Swimming with Crocodiles, has a stunning opener, serene with the soft electronic drum pad steadily beating. Andrews is an expert when it comes to writing songs that are filled with raw emotion, augmented by complex instrumental compositions. Switching back to the hard rock of previous tracks with Nux Vomica, The Veils then make a transition to a more unique sound with House of Spirits, the steel guitar producing fairground-style notes. The Pearl, from 2013 record Time Stays, We Go, is a more sedate tune, in the vein of Americana giants The War on Drugs, while Not Yet is a track filled with boisterousness, the band jumping up and down in relentless fervour.
Andrews returns to the stage for the encore, alone but for his guitar, playing an acoustic rendition of Sun Gangs, from the eponymous album of 2009. Next follows a tune from earlier still, Wild Son of 2004’s Runaway Found. Completing the finale is a great performance of Calliope, filling all with an optimistic cheer, followed by hit song Jesus for the Jugular, which is dark, brooding and electric, showing that The Veils are among the best in the alternative music scene.
It is a wonder why more people haven’t heard this group, especially those inclined to acts like The National and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. However, this hasn’t stopped their music reaching some of the greatest filmmakers, the most recent of which is David Lynch, who had the band make a guest appearance on his cult show Twin Peaks.
Though not particularly catchy, The Veils’ style of chamber rock doesn’t disappoint for fans of a sound that is edgier and with more substance, making tonight’s show near perfect.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit The Veils’ website here.
Watch the video for Axolotl here: