This was an eagerly awaited gig – the chance to hear the recently formed band Lupine Howl. Born from the ashes of Spiritualized and just signed to Beggars Banquet, after releasing a couple of critically acclaimed singles on their own label early this year, they were supporting The Dirty Three for a gig touted as the double bill of the week.
“Lupine Howl are the sound of Spiritualized‘s psychedelic soul married to a Spencer Davis back-beat and a Memphis soul band attitude…” sounds terrific, but unfortunately the sound balance at the Union Chapel was so strange that we didn’t get much of a chance to appreciate the mix. Sean Cook’s anguished vocals were lost in the soupy sounds emerging (somewhere between The Stone Roses and Ozric Tentacles, with crescendos and energy splattered about everywhere), and despite the best efforts of guitarist Mike Mooney and drummer Damon Reece, it was all a bit too close to white noise for true enjoyment. Shame, because it sounded as if it should have been exciting stuff, with two session musicians added: a second lead guitar, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms, and a keyboards man who coaxed some very interesting noises out of various high tech toys.
Headliners The Dirty Three had the same problems until someone finally found the treble control – all of a sudden we could hear front man Warren Ellis’ wailing violin kicking in, creating his own manic but beautiful effects. Now if only the sound man had known where that knob was during Lupine Howl’s set oh well, perhaps next time.
Maybe it was all a conspiracy. The sound was perfection for the first support act, a lone singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar whose name I missed (Patrick Duff?). He was rather good – a great voice, and some interesting material, if a little on the mournful side – and you could hear every single word, clear as a bell.