A gig of seconds this one; the second time I would be seeing the Antlers and the second gig for me at the Union Chapel, a venue which has quickly become one of my favourite places for live music in London.
The setting for this gig wasn’t quite as magical as it had been for the Frank Turner Xmas show but I finally got there with my friend although we arrived a little late and had to settle for sitting in the pews in the upper tier. Not ideal but it did give us a nice central position for the stage.
We arrived just in time for the slightly curious support act in Marques Toliver. He was an unusual act which entirely consisted of just him and his violin which doesn’t sound like it should work but it did. He was massively helped by the fact that he was playing in a venue that made the most of such a sound and also lends itself to a very quiet and attentive audience. I do feel that if he had played a ‘normal’ venue that he would have been drowned out by people talking. As this wasn’t the case here, I got to enjoy his wonderful voice (boy, can this guy sing) and simple backing on the violin.
I did enjoy his short set but it did get a little bit samey quite quickly. However, he suited the venue really well and set the mood for the Antlers’ set beautifully.
And so it was on to the Antlers themselves. They took to the stage with Marques Toliver in tow and kicked off their set with ‘Prologue’ unsurprisingly. This sounded absolutely great and the sound was made even richer with the addition of Toliver’s violin. Through the night, they were joined on stage by Toliver for a couple more tracks and by a couple of brass instruments for some of the other songs and these were both welcome additions to the whole experience that night.
The rest of their set was made up entirely of songs off the album ‘Hospice’ and for the most part they sounded great, ‘Kettering’ in particular being one of my favourite songs off the album and live. I was a little disappointed with the rendition of ‘Sylvia’ on the night though as I felt it didn’t have the punch that it maybe should have, especially in the chorus.
It’s a difficult gig to talk about individual songs as the band tended to flow from song into another for most of the night with only a couple of pauses for tuning and for personnel changes on stage. This continuity suits the band’s sound well though and really helped the experience.
The sound from the band was really good as well with Silberman’s vocals being spot on once again and the guitars/synths/keyboards wove together to make a sound that was enhanced by the venue no end. My biggest complaint though is that they didn’t really seem to be loud enough. I appreciate that their type of music doesn’t work with the full ear drum splitting volume but from where we were, it felt like they were only half filling the venue with their music which was a shame.
Overall, I did enjoy the set on the night but it’s an odd one as you’re never going to come away blown away by them because of the style of music they play. That said, I think the venue suited them well but they could have filled it a bit more volume-wise. The only other limitation to their set is the fact that ‘Hospice’ is by far their most popular piece of work and as it is ultimately a concept album, it’s difficult for them to put new, or old, material alongside these songs. They did use the encore to play the full version of ‘Cold War’ which sounded great but this is always going to be a bit of a problem for their live shows.
The Antlers – Kettering (live)
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