It could be said that the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne hasn't really produced the number of bands it should have in comparison to other major UK cities. This made the relative rise to prominence of Lanterns On The Lake last year even more welcome and unanticipated, especially given the nature of their music. The extent to which a band's background/origins can suggest/influence their sound is hard thing to determine at the best of times but debut album Gracious Tide, Take Me Home's refined, pristine beauty suggested their origins lay elsewhere. Last year saw them support Yann Tiersen and they have recently just been confirmed as the support act for Explosions In The Sky's forthcoming tour. Although both are quite different in sound to LOTL they do give an indication of the musical demographic to which they may appeal.
They begin with a rendition of Lungs Quicken, that on the whole matches the graceful musical sweep of the version on the album, complete with the opening bed of flickering electronics and tonight boosted by a harder guitar-bolstered ending. However, this was a rare moments where their live sound is heavier than on record, which in many ways was a little bit of a shame.
One of strengths of the album is its varying musical temperature, being able to at different times suggest both warm climates as well as wintery environments. Two of the stand-out tracks A Kingdom and Tricks grow into epic and powerful pieces, bounding towards the kind of understated crescendos that Sigur Rós would be happy with. Tonight, the band play competent versions, without ever achieving quite the same impact. A similar scenario occurs with Ships In The Rain. On record, it possesses a real evocative beauty, as if a blanket of fog has gradually descended over the track but sounded far lighter when played live, despite the inclusion of some bowed guitar.
However, there are still several moments where the band excels. You Need Better, a track from their Misfortunes & Minor Victories EP stands out, aided by Hazel Wilde's heartwarming lyrical refrain and Keep On Trying sounds as emotive as ever, tugging at heartstrings as it unfurls in majestic fashion.
Many of their songs have an undeniable beauty, along with a comforting, homely quality but live the band seem a little inhibited and nervous, demonstrated by their decision not to leave the stage ahead of their encore, album closer Not Going Back To The Harbour. They are undoubtedly a musically proficient outfit - you don't release an album like Gracious Tide, Take Me Home without having considerable talent - but tonight they displayed a timidity and level of reservation that prevented the performance from reaching the heights it had promised.