Trembling Bells are wonderful, they're a fairly recent discovery, I could probably blame Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone, but more likely it was actually David's Music Arcades post about their first album Carbeth in July of last year that alerted me to their presence.
Last night was my first experience of them live, it won't be the last. I don't envy support acts particularly in a cavernous venue like the SBE but they managed to make me unaware of the filling auditorium... and for the finale they were joined by folk dancers with bells and severed heads on poles... one was dressed as a horse... there was no way that it could be described as anything less than awesome.
The Unthanks make surprisingly sparse and delicate and wonderfully arranged and astoundingly grim folk music. Rachel and Becky are wonderfully warm people and they managed to make the SBE feel like a concert in a living room. The sound was amazing, better than I normally notice at the venue and the show was often breathtaking, noticeably during the grimmer songs like Sad February "Ten men who'll not see the springtime again Nor yet see the cold winter through" or Close The Coalhouse Door...
Close the coalhouse door, lad. There's bairns inside,
Bairns that had no time to hide,
Bairns that saw the blackness slide,
Bairns beneath the mountainside.
Close the coalhouse door, lad. There's bairns inside.
Even the cheerier moments, punctuated with Becky's clog dancing, were not so cheery, and a lovely off-mic vocal piece sang of the grim realities of wedlock (in the light of Becky's imminent nuptials).
Oh and a trumpet... a sad sad sad sounding trumpet - noticeably in the cover of King Crimson's Starless (see video below)