wed 24/07/2024

Lanterns on the Lake, Cargo | reviews, news & interviews

Lanterns on the Lake, Cargo

Lanterns on the Lake, Cargo

Mood music from Newcastle leaves audience speechless

Lanterns on the Lake: as reflective as their audience

Shock, horror. London audience keeps quiet. And in Shoreditch too, under a railway viaduct. Newcastle’s Lanterns on the Lake did something virtually no band achieves – directing the focus onto them. London audiences will babble through anything and everyone, but this sold-out show cast a spell.

The audience reaction wasn’t the only surprise. Last time round, at the Royal Festival Hall before John Grant, Lanterns on the Lake were tentative. The performance didn’t hang together. The concert hall setting did them few favours as it must have been the largest place they’d ever played, but even so the six members weren’t totally locked together. Last night this was a proper band, with a clear aesthetic.

If Lanterns on the Lake can be placed anywhere, it’s between Los Angeles and Iceland

Lanterns on the Lake describe themselves as “cinematic indie”. Their songs start quietly, with a strum and a drone, either electronic or from a treated guitar. Drums patter. Hazel Wilde begins singing of not going home or drifting. The bass guitar pulses and the violin weaves in and out. Single-note piano refrains bring colour. It locks and a crescendo arrives, crashing like a wave. It builds, and builds more. Then the song fades, exiting quietly, as it had begun. Lyrics repeatedly refer to water and the ocean, both of which are integral to Newcastle, its historic economy and current environment.

Although it’s tempting to think of Newcastle’s musical lineage as meat-and-potatoes outfits like The Animals and Angelic Upstarts, that has always been balanced by the more delicate, more introspective. Lindisfarne, of course, had their moments, and the Kitchenware label was built around the subtleties of Prefab Sprout and The Daintees. Latterly, though, and like Maximo Park, neither Lanterns on the Lake nor fellow Tynesider Beth Jeans Houghton can be placed as particularly regional.

If Lanterns on the Lake can be placed anywhere, it’s between Los Angeles and Iceland. Their recent debut Bella Union album Gracious Tide, Take me Home, which followed two self-released EPs and a single (cuts from which were re-recorded for the album), steers a path through an introspectively drifting folk rock on songs like “If I’ve Been Unkind”. But what lingers longest is the album's marriage of the dark atmospherics of LA’s Mazzy Star with the glitchiness and quirky, sepulchral approach of Iceland’s Mũm.

Live, Lanterns on the Lake have neither the forbidding presence of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval or Mũm’s otherworldliness. When Wilde sings “I look to the stars as the waves cover me” it’s hard to imagine her bridging the barrier between the earth and the heavens. At Cargo, Lanterns on the Lake came as close as they’ll get by making that bond with the audience.

MaribelSupporting Lanterns on the Lake were Norwegian four-piece Maribel (pictured right). As seems to be the norm for most Norwegian bands, they draw members from other outfits, in this case Serena Maneesh and Harry’s Gym. Like the headliner, they merge influences that are obvious, but not shouted. Slowdive and Death Valley 69-era Sonic Youth are their starting point. Shimmering guitar is punctuated by diving, swooping squalls. It’s oddly complementary, with Rebekka von Markstein’s vocals as spookily chilly as early Grace Slick.

Last night was all about atmosphere and dynamics. Neither band's songs arc through verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-etc patterns. That didn’t matter. It didn’t prevent someone in the audience shouting “What a band!” at Lanterns of the Lake – the evening’s sole interjection. Wherever it is Lanterns on the Lake play next, it sure won’t be beneath a railway.

Watch the video for Lanterns on the Lake’s “Keep on Trying”

Lanterns on the Lake came as close as they’ll get to bridging the barrier between the earth and the heavens by making that bond with the audience


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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