Music: Wild Beasts play Wilton’s Music Hall

The world’s oldest music hall tucked in between two houses in a Shadwell alley is the perfect setting for an evening with Wild Beasts.

Inside the threadbare 19th century Wilton’s Music Hall, which still bares the facets of a once grand and elegant interior, the band’s cordial introduction warms an earnest audience of fans.

Whilst Hayden Thorpe’s trembling falsetto is the more well-known voice in the band, it becomes apparent live just how important vocally is bassist and co-singer Tom Fleming.

Neither singer dominates and Tom’s rich and mellow vocals marry Hayden’s vulnerable lilt wonderfully, neither drowning amongst guitar or drums (perhaps they meant it when they said they had been told to keep it down in case they disturb the old fittings).

The acoustics of Wilton’s are like a conch against the ear, though devastating lyrics like “take off your chemise and let me do as I please” are sometimes lost among the arrangements.

To anyone who didn’t know where the band was from, it is patently clear from their accents that they are Cumbrian; Hayden, Tom, guitarist Benny Little and drummer Chris Talbot all hailing from the same small town of Kendal.

They are utterly good-mannered, humble and unmistakably erudite; there are no rock star egos here. Such┬ácharacterization would hardly suit a group who take musical inspiration from the poetry of the Romantics and Ana├»s Nin’s Delta of Venus.

The scattered (a capacity issue rather than an indication of fan-base) and disappointingly un-dancey crowd are enraptured by big hits “All The King’s Men” and “We Still Got the Taste Dancin’ on Our Tongues” and new material from upcoming album Smother is met with happy cheers.

An enduring space with a complexion of vulnerability, Wilton’s Music Hall could not have been a more appropriate venue for an intimate gig with a uniquely visionary band.

Smother is out now on Domino on CD, LP and download
Wild Beasts

Feature image by Patricia Turk, gallery by Rosie Cowling for OhDearism

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