Cardiff Arts Institute, Cardiff.
Tues 16 Feb
Cardiff Arts Institute was flooded with plaid shirts and Christmas jumpers. The hipsters were out in force to see Beach House, a band almost drowning in blog hype.
First up though was Lawrence Arabia, New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo. Which is harsh and inaccurate. He isn’t a duo.
Listening to his Apple Pie Bed beforehand it came as little to surprise to see Lawrence Arabia was facially hirsute. What did surprise was the vitality, the tight harmonising, the tropical trumpets and the rarely heard use of the live fadeout.
It felt a special, though a bit more variation in the Green Man friendly folk-flecked soft-rock shtick could see him go even further. File next to Fleet Foxes and the less gonzo moments of Ariel Pink.
“No smoke, no mirrors” as Alex Scally put it. Just him, Victoria Legrand, a drum machine and faith. Faith in their numbers and faith from the crowd. Beach House were album-perfect, the sound and the singing exquisite, but I didn’t feel engaged. This may be because of where I was sat, with the band out of sight. But the inherent constriction of playing to a rhythm track means that the ‘live-ness’ of a performance is compromised, voiding the uniqueness of that night’s performance.
That is by no means to say that Beach House were going through the motions, just that their music, so imbued with warmth, emotion and dreams felt oddly cold live. I’m sure I’m alone is such opinions, as all those present swayed, prom-ishly slow danced, smiled and drifted away to Beach House’s pitch-perfect dream-pop.