Seafret at Islington Assembly Hall
Seafret hasn’t been around long, but since 2014’s EP Give Me Something, the Northern duo has been tirelessly travelling the road of self-promotion, towards independent success. Tonight marks the last performance of their 21-show European tour. After this, it’s back to the studio.
Smoke and blue floodlights cover the stage, reminiscent of a sea fret – a mist that rolls in off the sea in summertime. The band’s name pays tribute to their coastal heritage and is also a pun on the fretboard of a guitar. The show opens with Beauty on the Breeze as the haze clears. From the outset, the night is marred by mixing problems. Singer Jack Sedman’s vocals are almost painfully loud, drowning out Harry Draper’s acoustic guitar and piercing eardrums to flinching point. At a venue like Islington Assembly Hall, a singer of Sedman’s capacity and style doesn’t strictly need a microphone – particularly if the crowd stops talking. His powerful vocals could effortlessly fill the hall. But to diminish volume would call attention to Seafret’s lyrics, which sag somewhat under scrutiny.
The band swings into hit single Atlantis under shining white lights. It’s one of their most popular songs, but ongoing mixing problems obliterate any sense of crowd engagement; If they wanted to (which, admittedly, most don’t), concertgoers couldn’t hear the person next to them. Normally this would be fine, but Seafret consists of only a singer and guitarist: overwhelming the guitar is a crucial misstep, and when sheer volume renders the lyrics unintelligible we’re left with just noise.
Wildfire is Seafret’s first triumph of the evening, and it comes halfway through the show. Gold and red swirls on stage as the duo face each other and the pace quickens. It’s a catchy melody – and one that’s known to millions. At times like this the band feels promising.
Building on this, by far the best song of the evening is their final encore, Monsters. Here, Draper’s alternate slap-strumming guitar and delicate harmonics merge with Sedman’s rousing vocals (and a called-up drummer – a welcome addition) to form a strapping conclusion. To borrow a word from Seafret’s limited lyrical repertoire, this tune is really something – but it’s not enough to salvage an hour and a half of formulaic melodies, SEO lyrics and shoddy mixing.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Seafret’s website here.
Watch the video for Monsters here: