There's a reason why some gig venues survive the long hall, key one is great atmosphere and a tendency to attract bands that not only make great music, but also bring along fans that appreciate great music. Fans that when the band are on respect the artists on stage, only making noise when applauding or when invited by the band to join in. A venue that treats musicians as professionals.
These days many music fans are also looking for something to eat before the gig and standing more than a Bob of getting a beer in the interval. Times they change, good venues adapt and survive and there is no disputing that The Half Moon, Putney, isn't one of the good ones.
It's not a coincidence that The Willows chose the venue to launch their new album, 'Through The Wild', their first since being joined by Kat Gilmore, so the 5th of December saw me walking through the Fulham crowds to get to what turned out to be my last gig of the year.
The Willows have expanded from the original four piece I saw a few years back on the Club Tent Stage at Cambridge Folk Festival to a six piece though were without bassist JP on the night. The date in question, being not only the official launch night, but also the cumulation of the tour baring the album's name.
The Willows have a sound that sits between folk and Americana, it's sweet and it's honeyed though not without a sharp tang where it's needed. They engage well with an audience though you're never quite sure where Ben is going to take an intro, which always adds an edge.
I'd been lucky enough to have had the album for a while, though hearing it live, not only adds a new dimension to the songs, but also shows the strengths in the songs, I'm not a fan of live being a recreation of the album, even on a launch night, songs should be given the freedom to breathe and they were given great gulps of air.
This was a grand night of entertainment and in "Through The Wild" the Willows have an album in which they can be justifiably proud. Both live and through the recorded medium, they are well worthy of your attention.
Support on the night came from two members of the Heard Collective, Daisy Chute and Cerian. The two musicians, performed solo, as a duo and even swapped instruments at one point as they draw together a seasonal medley that really captured and enhanced the vibe in the room.
The Heard Collective are a group of female musicians that are pushing a far more inclusive musical proposition and well worth keeping an eye out for in the London area. With different musicians bring different things to the collective, it looks like no two night are going to be the same.
Words & Pics: Neil King
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