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Live Review: As Tall as Lions – London Camden Barfly – 11/12/09

After 2 full albums and a number of successful tours under their belts stateside, this is the first time New York’s progressive indie hopefuls As Tall as Lions have managed to make it over to the UK, here as support to Athlete on their short nationwide tour.

This was their one and only UK headline date of the trip and a very welcome one after such a long wait for their small but clearly very dedicated army of UK fans

I made it into the venue just in time to catch main support Treetop Flyers take to the stage. These guys play ‘alternative country’, hailing from London you may feel that this is a strange mix, but in reality they do it very well. 4 way vocals were accompanied by some very tight playing by the band and they did well to keep the attention of a crowd that was clearly only in the venue for one band tonight. They definitely do themselves no harm at all and I’m sure more than a few people in the crowd ended the night with a Treetop Flyers CD to add to their collection.

There was only one band everyone wanted to see tonight finally the lights dimmed and As Tall as Lions took to the stage, with this tiny Barfly venue is packed to the rafters.

Kicking off with a feedback drenched almost jazz instrumental, complete with trumpet, they instantly have the crowd mesmerized before going straight into opening song ‘Stab City’, the crowd are silent at this point, simply staring at the share brilliance at what was unfolding in front of them. I’m sure many were intrigued to see how the band would pull it off in a live setting and in particular the distinctive vocals, especially from Dan Nigro…the answer was immaculately, possibly sounding even bigger than on record.

New song ‘Circles’ from the debut UK released EP followed shortly after, showing that the band are still producing quality tunes with every release, this latest offering came over very Mute Math’esque which is hardly surprising as they have been touring with each other of late.

The band went on to deliver song after song on sensational fashion. With a set mainly lifted from the band’s first self titled album the breeze through tracks such as ‘Ghost of York’ and the quite amazing ‘Song for Luna’, which saw the first real sing along of the night as the crowd really got going.

Finishing with a ‘requests encore’ the band came back to the stage after the crowd refused to let them leave without a couple more songs for the road. Finishing with ‘Broken Honey’ the crowd went nuts and it even saw a few drunken guys attempt a crowdsurf, to limited success! The band looked ready to finally leave the stage but for some heartfelt pleas from many parts of the crowd for ‘Love, Love, Love (Love, Love)’, after a bit of persuasion they duly obliged.

The guys in As Tall as Lions genuinely looked blown away by the reception they got this evening and as result a fantastic time was had by all. To me personally there is nothing better than seeing a band (especially from overseas) genuinely shocked by the reception they are getting and enjoying every minute rather than simply taking it all for granted.

This gig had everything a fan could ask for, fusion jazz instrumentals, guitars being played by mic stands, drum solos, trumpet solos, sing alongs, a Lady Gaga cover and requests. What’s not to like? Here’s hoping that they return to these shores sooner rather than later, if they do then they will no doubt be in venues 10 times the size of this.


Matt Buck (Twitter)

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