TVD Live Shots: Band of Horses at the Troxy, 2/23

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There’s a certain mystique surrounding Band of Horses when one listens to their records. It’s a sort of atmospheric elegance led by Ben Bridwell’s dreamy vocals which are in contradiction to his dark, withdrawn lyrics. That all gets blown to hell though when you see the band live. In an instant, it goes from quiet and reserved to a full-blown rock ‘n’ roll explosion. It’s night and day compared to the record, but isn’t that what a live show is really supposed to be anyway?

Falling somewhere between the Avett Brothers and Sunny Day Real Estate, Seattle’s Band of Horses are touring in support of their fifth studio album Why Are You Ok. The critics will say it’s a return to form for Bridwell, but then again those are the same people who criticised the brilliant Mirage Rock. Now, before we start debating this, I will tell you that in my not so humble opinion Cease to Begin is the band’s masterpiece and I would simply call it an extension, or an evolution of that record.

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I know what you’re going to say next—Infinite Arms was the band’s breakthrough. And I would say to that, great record, but a major label and a Grammy nod don’t make the record “a breakthrough.” The songwriting on Cease is arguably some of the best from the first decade of the 2000s. But enough about debating what’s best, let’s get onto the show.

As I mentioned previously, what you get on the record and what happens on stage at a Band of Horses show are two different things. Not in the sense that they don’t sound like the record, au contraire. It’s like the record only turned up to eleven—and that’s certainly one hell of a way to close out their UK tour.

Highlights from the set include “Casual Party” from the brilliant new album and familiar classics that sound as fresh as ever including “Is There a Ghost,” “Funeral,” and “Islands on the Coast.”

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Were you at the London show? What did you think? Join the conversation in the comment section below. Check out hi-res shots in the gallery here.

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