A couple of Thursdays ago (the 4th) Blaenavon played an electric show to a packed out crowd at The Lexington.
Unfortunately we missed the first of the two support acts, Waylor, but soon after Isaac Gracie nervously stepped onto stage announcing that he was under the weather and that his voice may go at any moment. Despite this he delivered a beautiful set to which the gradually growing audience listened intently. Gracie is a newly signed artist (to Universal) who has been filling many supporting slots and has gained recognition from Zane Lowe who made his song ‘Last Words’ his hottest record in the world on Beats 1.
Admittedly, I hadn’t heard much of Blaenavon before as their releases are sparse with only a handful of singles and an EP to their name since 2013. They managed to attract the attention of Transgressive records making them label mates with the likes of Foals, Two Door Cinema Club and Dry the River. Amongst the now buzzing audience Blaenavon took to the stage and with minor technical difficulties their set got underway. They immediately captured mine and the audiences’ attention with vocals reminiscent of White Lies’ Harry Mcveigh and drumming invoking that of Local Natives’ Matt Frazier particularly on their track ‘Prague’ which induced the best response from the audience. Harris McMillan’s drumming was truly a testimony to the tightness of the band’s live sound and fuelled their energetic on-stage presence. The drums on ‘Hell is in My Head’ were particularly captivating. Track ‘Into the Night’ bears guitar riffs similar to that of Wu Lyf and an infectious chorus whilst ‘Dragon’ builds slowly with haunting vocals and a lullaby-esque feel. Bassist Frank Wright’s string broke halfway through and yet no-one noticed; not even charismatic singer and guitarist Ben Gregory, who was preoccupied with the intricate finger picking guitar line he was playing.
Amongst the audience were a large group of the band’s friends. Even Ben’s mother was in the second row to which he noted ‘you should be at the front!’ proceeding to dedicate a song to her. The friends of the band showed their support by singing along to every word and during the final song Ben leapt into the crowd and was carried across the venue which was definitely the highlight of the night. It was clear that they were having the time of the lives and, despite being barely in their twenties, they posses a mature sound and approach to performing live. The potential of this band is huge and I can easily see them playing larger festival venues and gradually expanding their audience. If their gig at The Lexington was anything to go by their album and subsequent shows are not to be missed.
Words by Alba Donnachie
Art by Zia Larty-Healy