Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Acorn @ Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen, London

3 June 2010

As of late, it’s been a noticeable trend that bands who have snuck under the radar of the mainstream finally get the recognition they deserve in some way or another. Bands like The National and Elbow can finally reap the rewards of years of hard graft and play to large festival crowds and in illustrious venues on the back of their breakthrough album – that is, the one that crashes into the higher echelons of the UK album charts.

The Acorn are still in the early stages of their career, by comparison at least, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that they themselves could follow in the footsteps of the Brooklyn-based indie rockers. However, when they play such intimate venues as the Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen, they seem to be in their natural habitat.

The Canadian five-piece are in the capital to debut songs from their new album No Ghost, the follow-up to Glory Hope Mountain. The new material is far more free-roaming and it’s this spirit that translates to the live stage. What’s more they are powered by a rhythm section – comprised of a drummer and a main percussionist – that add so much more weight to their live show. It’s this kind of unstoppable driving force, as shown on tracks like Crooked Legs and new album standout No Ghost, that gives their folk-tinged indie rock such a punch.

Tonight also allows Rolf Klausener to shine as a frontman. He’s not necessarily an evangelistic figure, nor does he pull off forced poses in a vain attempt to please the crowd. Instead, he delivers his lyrics with incredible sincerity and the intensity of his playing is neither whimsical or overpowering. Songs like I Made The Law allow him to rock out whilst Slippery When Wet gets him crooning with passion.

They also have something that very few other bands have: a welcoming and inviting stage presence. It’s also why, if they ever did blow up, most fans would miss these intimate shows. They have a hugely impressive ability to connect with their audience, without the need for the stereotypical ‘Everybody, clap your hands!’ or ‘Everybody sing along!’ shtick that so many bands adopt. Their response to hecklers is good-natured and witty, yet they’re also extremely respectful to their audience. They even do something else most bands wouldn’t do: thank their own record label (Bella Union in this instance).

It’s hard to know if tonight’s audience are either watching the beginnings of a long and illustrious career or just another indie rock band playing a venue they will keep playing for years to come. If it’s the case of the latter, then the mainstream will be missing out on some talent. The Acorn are a band with all the right things in place – great musicianshipp, a dynamic range of sounds, a promising frontman and a stage presencee that is approachable and charming. The near sell-out audience tonight hopes that they’re destined for big things. On the strength of this performance, it would be criminal for this Canadian quintet not to enjoy mass acclaim.

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More on The Acorn
The Acorn – No Ghost
The Acorn @ Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen, London
The Acorn – Glory Hope Mountain
The Acorn @ Night & Day, Manchester