Live Review: The Besnard Lakes @ O2 Academy, Liverpool

Posted on 26 March 2010
By Amy Roberts
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Thursday night at the O2 Academy. The joint is filled with a man-heavy crowd (the place is pretty busy and yet there’s approximately a measly 7 girls in the audience), the stage is filling up with a Spinal Tap-esque volume of unnecessarily thick smoke and the bar is wringing dry the wallets of punters the venue over.

Christ, £4 is a ridiculous amount to charge for a spirit and mixer. Thats 40 per cent of our weekly food budget GONE, for fucksakes.

Still, by the time the visibly exhausted The Besnard Lakes hit the stage – this is the first date of their tour, and the foursome are suffering some badass jet lag – the drink rage, gender rage and inability to see anything on stage rage, all fade into the woolgathering, radiant evocations of the sublime and the cinematically emotional on offer from tonights performers.

They’re ridiculously and deliciously lovely. A divine blend between folksy, heavily harmonized Americana, and hazy, dosed up, space pop.

Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent Pt. 2, a dual vocal, down-paced, doss-euphoric gem of a song, helps introduce the set. Sounding distant and whimsical, the piece is performed with lashings of lavish vocals and sets the high precedent with which The Besnard Lakes play for the next hour.

Though they can be ambient, traversing the evening through a recurring dreamscape of wandering, druggy noise, they’re also no stranger to providing some killer bass lines and the sort of riffs that could easily be envisioned as being used on the soundtrack to Dazed And Confused – in particular, Devastation, which announces itself with such force and magnitude, that you can’t help but feel truly pepped by it.

Their sound tonight also bears similarities to Ennio Morricone film scores – dramatic, foreboding, menacing and downright fiendish. Some songs get beautifully pared down – reduced to the single thrust of a whammy bar and some minimalist chugging bass, delicate vocals and singular, sensitive chords. Cinematic and grand, their sound resembles the kind of background score that gets burst out of cinema speakers during a slow motion, badass character introduction of a real bad motherfucker.

Gnarly stuff.

Humble and quietly shy, The Besnard Lakes make few verbal connections with their audience. There’s a slight mumbling about being jet legged, a garbled attempt at banter which results in some delightfully snarky ‘Nice one, that was some great banter…’ between band jests, and ends with an pre-encore introductory blurb of ‘Last time I played this, I totally screwed it up. Nobody look at me’ from guitarist / vocalist Jace Lasek, stood somewhere amongst a thick mist of on stage smoke, ‘Oh, wait – you can’t see me anyway can you? Okay, let’s do this then.’

At which point The Besnard Lakes kick into the heavenly, so-sumptuous-my-toes-are-curling-into-themselves – For Agent 13. The song in itself is the kind of drowsy, melancholic and aurally distrait fare that David Lynch would probably insert a few dying chords of into a hellishly emotional sex scene of one of his movies – live it proves almost too much to bare. We might even do a cry. A big, blubbing one. Oh Christ.

Fuck me, it really is gorgeous – repeatedly dissolving itself into disenfranchised pining – all dual vocals and ridiculously high notes and ending in a stumbling, swagger of brash, squealing dramatics.

Sublime, sublime, sublime.

The Besnard Lakes will be touring the UK until March 31st, and we highly recommend you catch them at any of the following dates.

03/26/10 Bristol, UK – Arnoifini   w/ Tunng
03/27/10 Leeds, UK – Cockpit
03/28/10 Glasgow, UK – Captain’s Rest   w/ Wolf People
03/29/10 Manchester, UK – Dulcimer   w/ Wolf People
03/30/10 Birmingham, UK – Hare and Hounds   w/ Wolf People
03/31/10 London, UK – Cargo   w/ Wolf People

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