Published 17 May 2010 by Ben Winbolt-Lewis
Wildbirds & Peacedrums played their first two shows with a handpicked Swedish choir (billed as 'Voices') last weekend and I was lucky enough to be at both. The first was at the Pavement-curated ATP in Minehead on Friday which was great, but their headline show at London's Bishopsgate Institute was something else...
Having seen Wildbirds & Peacedrums about 20 times since they first appeared on our shores at the intimate Betsey Trotwood in April 2008, you would have thought that I would have had enough of seeing them, especially given my personal tendency to get bored very easily(!). However, considering the band usually just operates as a two piece rhythm machine, with virtually all melody provided solely by Mariam Wallentin's remarkable voice, every show has been very special in its own way. Saturday's was by no means an exception, in fact, it was probably the best show I have seen them play.
Gone, or tempered, was the visceral element I love so much about the band. The duo had a choir to work with, not compete with. However, a new side to the band was starting to shine through.
This was helped by the excellent acoustics in the Bishopsgate Institute,which I had not been to before; the natural reverb in the hall really brought out the best in the music. This helped the melody, which the band are not always credited for, shine through.
I should mention the crowd too. It's not often that a standing audience is so respectful and passionate. This was highlighted when a spontaneous burst of singing from the crowd arose when 'My Heart' (from The Snake) was played in the encore, a fantastic event to witness. There seemed to be a real connection between band and audience, the latter were not merely spectators.
After the epic finale, the crowd wouldn't let an emotional Mariam and Andreas Werliin go without a second encore, so, with the ecstatic crowd pleading and whooping, the duo played 'The Way Things Go' from the band's debut Heartcore and I, like a lot of the other people in the venue I'm sure, was left enraptured and hand the feeling that I was just part of something very special.
To think that the the band and choir had not had as much time to prepare as they hoped for, and that the arrangements will inevitably evolve over time, this leaves the prospect of future performances with Voices as mouth-watering.
Anyway, don't just take my word on Saturday's performance, here's another account:
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