Photo and Review by Chaz Brooks
As debut headline gigs go this was pretty special. A stunning performance in a stunning venue. The Wandering Hearts have been together for less than 18 months, have no recorded output as yet – soon to be rectified with the release of their launch single next week – and have recently signed to Decca Records, home of The Shires, The Lumineers and Imelda May.
Upcoming Nashville singer Taylor Noelle supported with a beautiful solo set. The four members of The Wandering Hearts performed to a sell-out crowd including friends, family and music industry insiders keen to catch a first glimpse of Americana’s next big thing. Or should I say “Folk-Americana” as they are described in Decca’s press release.
The band were joined for the night by guest double bassist “Lee” on bass. They aren’t big on introductions with no surname for Lee and no name checks at all for the four band members. This shows the camaraderie of the group, with seemingly no individual egos, four talented people working together for one common aim – to produce sumptuous music which crosses the genre boundary and blends with truthful lyrics, gorgeous harmonies and foot-tapping rhythms.
Opening up with the forthcoming single Wish I Could the band hit the mark immediately with perfectly synchonised, beautiful vocals from all four which brought a rapturous reception. Next a foot-stomping Fire and Water with amazingly strong vocals and all four singing simultaneously, a notable feature of the group. Other numbers followed including If I Fall and “one for the girls”Nobody’s Fool with Chess Whiffin on lead vocals in a rocking country blues.
The next track Laid In The Ground, according to guitarist and vocalist AJ Dean “is on the dark end of the spectrum” with a folky intro and high quality acapella singing. The four sang as one and the track built and built, Fleetwood Mac overtones in abundance.
Next, the highlight of the set for this reviewer. Accompanied by Tim Prottey-Jones on unamplified acoustic guitar and “Lee” on bass the five musicians stepped forward in front of the microphones to deliver a stunning version of their track Bridges. Atmospheric and silhouetted against the lights this was something very special indeed. Checking my scrawled notes I see “unbelievably brilliant” against this track which is not very eloquent but sums it up nicely.
Back behind the mics for three finishing numbers Biting, Devil and Rattle the group continued to shine. Devil being very much in the Sarah Jarosz style, if the band follows in the footsteps of the recent double-Grammy winner it will be fulfilling the potential seen by Decca. One audience member was overheard saying “I’d rather watch this than Fleetwood Mac.” Quite so.