Yo La Tengo have been going for years and have a produced a fine array of esoteric albums taking in a whole variety of styles sometimes within the same album. They are over touring in support of their new largely covers album.
Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals opens the night with a solo acoustic set that was difficult to hear and even more difficult to see as he was sat down and Shepherds Bush Empire has at best a flat floor and at worst an inverse camber.
The stage is sparsely dressed with easels of paintings from the band and friends and family and we await what will be an acoustic show complete with upright bass and drums just played with brushes. The only exception the electric guitar of on off band member Dave Schramm.
It’s a quietly hushed affair as the band cover songs by everyone from the Cure to the Bonzo Dog band. The music is beautifully played and works well particularly for the three part harmonies but ultimately the first hour doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s all a bit one paced and with no real variation in tone or mood. Second half picks up after Friday I’m in Love but ultimately we’re not taken on any sort of journey. Highlight was probably Rhys joining the band for Rings around the world.
We talked in the pub beforehand about seating in the Empire and afterwards I felt that this particular gig would have really benefitted from being all seated. The lack of energy on stage translates to the audience and I was surprised that anything tonight generated the odd woop after each song.
I maybe doing the band a disservice as my mind could have been distracted but isn’t that the whole point of music. To take you to another place. It did but unfortunately for me the blandness overtook the beauty in this grey countryside that lacked any other colour.