The Lionheart Brothers – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen 01/04/08

3 stars (out of 5)

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The Lionheart BrothersNo doubt at all about the main attraction in Hoxton tonight – hardly anyone bothered to make their way through to the back room for either of the support bands, although both generated more than enough volume to get them noticed.

Just before the start of the Lionheart Brothers set, the room rapidly filled up and I’ve never seen so many Norwegians in one place in the UK. The headliners were playing to a crowd which were very partisan but not particularly critical.

The band started their set in a very low-key style with both guitarists/singers crouching over their effects pedals. As a one-off gimmick for the start of the set this might have worked, but it was repeated at the end of every song in the set and eventually became fairly irritating, particularly for anyone who was further back than the front of the stage. The band’s recorded sound relies on subtle textures, particularly between the 2 guitars and vocals and, unfortunately, the sound on the night wasn’t capable of delivering this. The bass was too high in the mix, the vocals were too low and the guitars were too toppy for most of the set, which meant that most of the subtlety was lost.

At times during the set, the shimmering psychedelic sound that the Lionheart Brothers are trying to achieve (if you’re looking for influences, try very early Pink Floyd) manages to escape from the murky mix, but these moments are few and far between and don’t really make up for the rest of the set. The live style of the band seems to revolve around taking the studio versions of the material as a basis for extended live improvisations. This approach is great when it works, but there were a couple of times tonight when the approach failed, with clashing guitar sounds and out-of-tune vocals.

This gig felt like an opportunity wasted in that several things conspired to stop the Lionheart Brothers from doing justice to their recorded sound. With a better mix, a bigger room and a less basic light show, I think that the spectacle would have been much better and much more enjoyable for the neutrals in the audience.

Ending on a positive note, the one constantly positive aspect of the performance was the drummer Peter Rudolfsen, who held things together during the quiet sections and drove the whole band along ferociously during the headbanging sections, particularly the final song Love Ludicrous. Overall, I think the verdict has to be that this was a missed opportunity and that the band might benefit from supporting a bigger act in bigger venues where the spectacle of the show can be emphasised and the band have to work to win over a less partisan audience.