Live Music + Gig Reviews

Miracle Fortress + It Hugs Back @ Metro, London

12 December 2007

A double header at London’s Metro that may have offered little more than an hour and a half in music, but more than made up for it in terms of quality.

It Hugs Back are recent signings to Too Pure, and while their set began with the proverbial man and his dog in attendance by the end a sizeable crowd were making appreciative noises. They were right to, as the quartet, still relatively clean behind the ears, make music of imaginative timbre and poise.

Sometimes less is more, as some softly observed handclaps suggested. The keyboard tones proved central to the equation of the music’s resultant colour, and when styled more aggressively sat well with the faster tracks, while the opening numbers showed a pleasing lack of weight in their suspended chords and running bass line. All very promising, and a band whose company should be sought at an early opportunity, as intimate venues such as the Metro are an ideal platform for their music.

The Miracle Fortress live sound is rather bigger in stature, considerably more weighty and rhythm based than on the Five Roses album. When main man Graham Van Pelt was recording the Rough Trade debut he was still a one piece studio outfit, but now his band of four lend him a spontaneity and endless possibilities of instrumental texture.

And with two drummers in tow, the rhythmic conundrum is occasionally a complex one but never overwhelming. Indeed, Adam Waito and Nathan W brought a great energy and vigour to the more percussive tracks such as Whirrs, with its galloping tom toms, and Maybe Lately, but were sensibly deployed so that the softer solo numbers stood out.

The last of these found Van Pelt and Waito in a moving couplet, while guitarist Jessie Stein and technological wizard Jordan Robson-Cramer sipped wine and sang along onstage, as if they were dreamily travelling in the back seat of a car. Such asides added to the group’s appeal, and when Van Pelt stated how pleased he was to be back in London we believed him.

The good natured gig impressed with its combination of rich, slightly perfumed textures and durable pop melodies, Van Pelt inspiring many a smile with his lyrical couplets and memorable melodies. You’ll be hearing from then again very soon – and are advised to make the most of the opportunity.

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More on Miracle Fortress
Miracle Fortress – Was I The Wave?
Miracle Fortress + It Hugs Back @ Metro, London
Miracle Fortress – Five Roses