TALL SHIPS / SILENT FORUM / SHADOWS INTO LIGHT | LIVE REVIEW
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Thurs 4 May
When Funeral For A Friend bowed out last May after seven albums, they did so in some style, with a sold-out gig at the Forum in London. So it must be something of a comedown for their former guitarist Gavin Burrough to find himself playing back in front of a small and largely unappreciative crowd at Clwb. His new outfit Shadows Into Light mine a similar seam of muscular, emo-influenced rock as FFAF, but rarely rouse themselves to much beyond the generic.
Better – or significantly more interesting, at least – are Silent Forum, whose blend of jangle and atmospherics recalls both The Smiths and Deerhunter and whose frontman Richard Wiggins channels the voice of Ian Curtis and the love-‘em-or-loathe-‘em exaggerated stage theatrics of Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring.
Drummer Elliot Samphier has had his left hand in a cast for the last four weeks but grimaces his way through heroically, the length and intensity of set-closer Hosanna proving a particularly painful challenge. His band are still very raw, but on the fleeting occasions when they do all click into sync, there’s enough promise to suggest that their debut LP, due out later in the year, will be worth listening out for.
That Tall Ships set sail with a song that Coldplay would probably be slightly ashamed to call their own does not bode well. The track in question, Road Not Taken, opens new album Impressions, their first for five years, which signals a marked shift away from their energetic, mathy origins in apparent pursuit of staid, over-earnest anthemicism. Surely Biffy Clyro should be considered a cautionary tale, not role models?
Over the course of a set that struggles to generate even a single frisson of excitement, the only risk Tall Ships could be said to take is that of alienating their established fanbase. Played at the beginning of an encore for which no one pleads (because the band never actually leave the stage), T=0 is no doubt intended as a sop to those of us they’ve left behind, but instead only emphasises the yawning chasm between the potent force they once were and the safe stadium rockers they seem to want to be.
words BEN WOOLHEAD