Live Music Reviews

Beach House + Lawrence Arabia @ Bush Hall, London

17 February 2010


“You’re all so polite”, New Zealander James Milne, aka Lawrence Arabia, announces midway through his set in West London’s most opulent venue.

High ceilings, intricate detailing on the walls and six beautiful chandeliers make Bush Hall an unlikely gig venue, a place where anything less than complete politeness would seem strangely ill-advised.
That’s not to say that the support act fails to keep the crowd entertained. Opening his short set with the harmony-laden Dream Teacher and dexterously moving between the warm, Beatles-esque Apple Pie Bed and the more deranged, feedback-soaked The Crew Of The Commodore, it’s the perfect warm-up before the main event.

And ‘event’ is what it feels like as the crowd swells and a collection of odd, fur-covered lamps start to flicker and pulse before Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, aka Baltimore duo Beach House, cagily make their way onstage. Following the rapturous reception afforded their recently released third album Teen Dream, there’s a groundswell of anticipation as the first chords of Walk In The Park begin to unfurl.

Augmented by a drummer, with Legrand on keys and Scally taking care of guitar duties, there’s an unfussy minimalism to the set-up which mirrors the dreamy, slow burn sound of their records. The majority of the set is taken from Teen Dream, its bruised beauty reaching a peak with the lovelorn Zebra, Legrand’s rich and evocative vocals weaving in and out of a typically delicate guitar figure.

But for all their woozy, pillow-soft sounds, the new material also allows them a chance to rock out, albeit relatively. The distorted Silver Soul finds Legrand fashioning her own version of head-banging as she lunges forwards and back over her keyboard, whilst the brilliant Norway, complete with its chorus of “ah, ah, ahs”, gets the crowd involved in a singalong.

The real moment of magic comes with the last song of the main set. With the chandeliers turned right down and with fluffy lamps set on static, Legrand asks to make things really romantic and, as Teen Dream’s stately closer Take Care begins to unfurl, the glitter ball hanging above the crowd sparks off a hundred shards of light. It’s a breathtaking moment and as Legrand sings “I’ll take care of you, if you ask me to” it’s hard not to be swept up in the moment.

After a brief encore and a quick farewell, the house lights are back on and suddenly the beauty of the venue takes over again. It’s a testament to Beach House that during their set the only things worth concentrating on were the three figures onstage and the lush, haunting music they seem to create out of the barest ingredients.


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More on Beach House
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Beach House – Depression Cherry
Beach House @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Beach House – Bloom
Beach House @ Cathedral, Manchester