And Also The Trees play at the O2 Academy Islington tonight to an audience that is clearly eager to catch a band that, amongst their fans, are almost seen as members of the family. There is an air of nervousness tinged with excitement and good humour as the lights dim and what appears to be a huge stage beckons.
Starting with the lights down and a single repeating guitar note there are airs of Mogwai and digital delay crescendos beginning to build but as the lights go up a little it’s just guitarist Justin Jones without any digital enhancement. It’s understated and gradual but it builds… and build and builds, and as the other instruments start to fill the space there’s almost an air of panic – just how big can this sound become and just how overwhelming could it be?
As it reaches the point of aural climax we are rescued by vocalist Simon Jones who, while the music is soaring and creating reverberations around this building, uses a vocal style that earths and insulates, and gives the stability and balance that allows my own fears to be quelled. His delivery is slow and confident, mellow and comforting, and is brought to us through an almost physical appearance of pain; his hands often being reminiscent of Joe Cocker’s antagonised dramatics.
As the gig grows around us we are blessed with old and new favourites, including many from brand new album ‘Born Into The Waves’. It’s a strange contradiction that the audience here contains many that you would expect to see at a gig by The Cure (who were instrumental to this bands early success in the 80s) and others who, despite it being a Saturday night, look as though they’ve come straight from the office; presumably an estate agents. It tells the story of the broad appeal of the music we’re infected by tonight.
The band demonstate their appeal in other ways too – we have those Mogwai-esque soundwaves and we have some classic-hook melodies that fit and blend so well that to categorise this band remains a difficult mission. The best way to sum them up is to compare Simon Jones and bass player Grant Gordon. Jones looks crumpled, dishevelled and tortured while Gordon is assured, restrained and statuesque. The contrast between them is underpinned by the fact that both are amazingly assured and cool, yet both are engaged and engaging. The decades of experience that this band hold are indicative of what they have achieved , and what they have shared with everyone here tonight.