Live Review: I Dream in Colour with Heroics and Anchor and the Wolf at Kentish Town Bull and Gate – 18th November 2011

By on Monday, 21st November 2011 at 2:00 pm

My first gig in Kentish Town, at a Club Fandango night at the Bull and Gate, allowed me to make a comparison between a small DC venue like DC9 to this similar one in North London. I can say for certain that the sound system at the Bull and Gate is incredible and blows our venues out of the water, even the ones that are twice its size (sorry, Washington) and aesthetically, the lighting options are a lot better as well. But enough with the pedantic, jaundiced eye: you’re here to read about the I Dream in Colour gig you couldn’t get into, because it was sold out, right? I have come to your aid, even if I was running on 3 hours of sleep and I nearly walked into a wall down a corridor towards the Northern line (why didn’t anyone warn me that changing from the Central to Northern line required heading down a corridor that has a slanted floor? Not good for someone still woozy from motion sickness medication, but I digress…)

The openers’ band names are a good study on how to (or not to) come up with a proper name for a band. Heroics were up first; their name conjures up good deeds of Biblical proportions like David taking down Goliath. Or maybe something closer to home, like the art of sport and competition with respect to next summer’s Olympics. In the right light, the lead singer ** looks like Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, and this band plays likable indie rock. I’m guessing the folks milling about in the bar directly outside the performance room would have really liked them, if they gave this band half a chance. What was heard was pretty good for a band I’d never heard of; with their energy, they sound like they could be a commercial hit, if promoted properly. They have an EP out on the 8th of December, so keep an eye on these guys.

Portsmouth’s Anchor and the Wolf, on the other hand, has a name that makes you wonder if they consulted a clairvoyant when pressed for a name. Are we supposed to believe that the backing band is the anchor, and the singer out front is the wolf? Or vice versa? And what is a predatory wild animal doing with something that belongs deep in the ocean, anyway? Zoe Mead sings like she’s trying to be Adele, which seems strange given the context: she plays acoustic guitar and xylophone and wears denim shorts Adele would never be caught in. But there’s also an element of Alessi Laurent-Marke (Alessi’s Ark), if she’d gone more rock. The xylophone of course is prominently placed front and centre, but sadly it’s more of a gimmick than anything else, not adding anything of value to their performance. “Only love can set you free”? Can we say ‘cliché’?

Of course everyone has come out to the Bull and Gate for tonight’s headliners. This is the closest to a hometown gig for these boys from Essex, and there are plenty of loud and proud family and friends in the audience. What is interesting (or disappointing, depending on your musical taste) is the band’s progression to a more commercial sound. ‘Get Along’ (video at the bottom of the main part of this post), one of the band’s earliest songs, has a bit of country twang with indie rock. But newer track (and freebie as a former MP3 of the Day here) ‘Long Cold Lonely Winter’ has the band, at least according to a punter that wished to remain anonymous, “sounding more like Coldplay”. What drew me first to the band was the power chords and heavy guitars (say hello to guitarist Michael Thackeray’s pedal board, which is probably as wide as I am tall) and while I like piano in rock music surely and am not against it, if I Dream in Colour is going this direction, they’re heading into what is already a very crowded market, going against behemoths Keane and Chris Martin and co. (My guess is that if Tom Chaplin makes good on his wish to work with Kanye on the next Keane album and continue the way of last year’s ‘Night Train’ (EP review here), IDIC will fill in their vacated spot easily.) But I will say that Richard Judge’s songwriting, indicated by hearing bits and bobs of demos he’s worked on with just his voice and the keys, will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

We’re here tonight for the single launch party for ‘Strangest Place’, another piano-led track. Still, it is clear that their fans, widely ranging in age from uni kids to people in their 40s and 50s and refreshingly, an even mix of males and females (usually a rarity at male-heavy rock gigs and female-heavy pop gigs), like the way this band is headed and already know every word to every song. For a band who hasn’t even put out a proper album yet, this is very promising, watching everyone clap their hands with frontman Judge’s encouragement. At the end, women vie for half-drunk water bottles, which generally only happen to pinup bands, right? The vibe was so electric that if this band wants mainstream success, it should come. Soon.


After the cut: more photos and set list.

Heroics Photos:

Anchor and the Wolf Photos:

I Dream in Colour Set List:
Never Close Enough
Get Along
Ready to Go
Still Got a Hold on Me
Long Cold Lonely Winter
If You
Strangest Place
Finding the Courage

I Dream in Colour Photos:

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6 Responses

10:33 am
25th November 2011

I was at this gig and your comments about Anchor and the Wolf are way off. Firstly Zoe doesn’t sound anything like Adele – – does that really sound like Adele!?! Also in regards to your comments about “only love can set you free” – it was a COVER version of NTrance’s disco hit “Set you free”. Surely a music journalist would know this?

12:21 pm
25th November 2011

I’ve just noticed that in your ‘After the cut’ section you have posted the Anchor & The Wolf photos twice, the first time labelling them as Heroics photos.

12:22 pm
25th November 2011

For some reason, my first set of comments have not appeared, so I will try again in bitesize chunks:

I enjoyed reading your review of the I Dream In Colour gig.

I share your concerns about the use of pianos in rock and how bands like Coldplay and Keane have made this distinctly uncool. However, I think IDIC have a certain confidence and swagger that suggests that they are not phased by this, and this is admirable. The piano existed long before Coldplay and Keane and if bands are influenced by any stigma that may have become attached to it, then this says more about their own insecurities than it does about the piano itself. Richard Judge is an accomplished pianist and should be applauded. It also added to the variety of the show when he switched between piano and guitar.

12:23 pm
25th November 2011

I enjoyed both of the support bands too. However, I preferred Anchor & The Wolf over Heroics. Heroics had some promising material but were let down by an amateurish performance, including much between-song faffing and several painfully extracted tuning interludes. Once too often songs had to be stopped and restarted and their final song was abandoned altogether due to continued tuning issues, resulting in an abrupt, lacklustre ending. With a lot of refinement, this band could be good.

12:23 pm
25th November 2011

In comparison, Anchor & The Wolf were as slick as you like. Their material was a good deal more interesting and engaging than Heroics’. The athletic bass playing alone was worth the ticket price. Their singer had a strong and expressive voice and handled simultaneous instrument duties effortlessly. By the way, she was playing glockenspiel, not xylophone. Sorry, that sounded pedantic, but it’s purely for info! I thought it added a nice touch of frosting to their musical cake, but I’m a fan of the glock when played well. The line you quote “Only love can set you free” was from the one cover they played, Set You Free, originally a cheesy 90s Eurotechno song by cheesy 90s Eurotechno outfit N-Trance. They announced it as a cover before they played it, even suggesting we might recognise it. It was an amusing choice executed well and sounding good played in their style. Again, I’m a fan of amusing but well executed covers.

12:24 pm
25th November 2011

You got some excellent photos there. I must have been standing right next to you for most of the evening!


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