With rain drizzling outside on this cold wintry evening, St Giles-in-the-Fields makes an enticing refuge. Setting itself up as a less mainstream version of the Union Chapel, this church located in the shadows of London’s Centrepoint has increasingly been hosting some of the more interesting bands in the city. Tonight’s bill, put together by the appropriately named promoters and shoegaze enthusiasts Sonic Cathedral, worked well as a seasonal fit.
Support act Still Corners are building a fine reputation, channeling some of the classic sounds of the shoegaze genre. The standard elements of Echo And The Bunnymen and Slowdive are present, while at times they remind of The Cocteau Twins, though without the madness of Liz Fraser’s vocals, for Tessa makes a more traditional front woman. Breaking up their dark brooding sound with a couple of more friendly upbeat songs, they sound lovely in this venue. If there is a shoegaze revival happening, Still Corners should be at the heart of it.
When Our Broken Garden arrive, the stage finds itself dressed by metres upon metres of lit rope snaking around the band members. A mutant tree towers over them with claw like branches – their broken garden. Anna Bronsted arrives with hair untidy and wearing a strange gold baby suit. Batty young woman? Perhaps, but her natural Scandinavian beauty and elegance allow her to get away with it.
Beginning with the atmospheric and haunting Departure, you could be forgiven for expecting a night of ethereal wishy-washyness. In fact, what follows is full of energy, thanks to some strong driving drumming and dominant bass. Playing recent album, Golden Sea, in its entirety, The Fiery And Loud stands out as making you want to get off your pews and dance – a surprising development. Sadly no one actually did.
Bronsted’s voice is affecting. Her tone is perfect, but its clarity is obscured, like a crystal out of reach beneath the sea’s surface, or a siren singing through the mist. It’s a precise haziness, hypnotising and, when encompassed by her band’s perfect harmonies, dreamlike.
Halfway through the set, the pace slackens with a series of the album’s more sombre songs, among them the enchanting and stunning highlight Seven Wild Horses, before recent single Garden Grow picks things up again. As if to remind us that she has a previous album in her arsenal, The Samaritan and Watermark, both from When Your Blackening Shows both get an outing before the gig’s conclusion.
It’s understandable that Sonic Cathedral promoted this one-off night, but it would be unfair to categorise Our Broken Garden as simply atmospheric or as shoegaze, when in fact what they make is beautiful, accessible, glorious pop music.