Luke’s Alphabet Tour – B: Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny at London Garage – 2nd February 2012

By on Wednesday, 8th February 2012 at 2:00 pm

Letter B is Beth Jeans Houghton‘s latest project…

Outside it feels like even a penguin would catch a chill, but inside the Garage the temperature is rising from the early arrivals to HMV’s Next Big Thing gig at one of London’s best-loved venues. Downstairs Reckless Love are no doubt giving the city’s rock contingent a bloody good seeing to, but upstairs it’s time for the indie fans to witness some of the finest new music on offer in 2012.

Opening this Thursday night showcase are the London indie-folk duo Olfar. The sombre, dual vocals float over the gradually growing crowd who unfortunately don’t appear as receptive as the boy/girl combo hoped. ‘Sailing the Wreck’ wins over a few down the front but the obvious passion emanating from the stage simply doesn’t resonate with those in attendance. The powerful vocal harmonies sadly aren’t harnessed to full effect as frontman Oli Deakin takes over voice duties for the majority of the set. Closing on the title track from their latest album (available for just £1 on Bandcamp) the mood shifts and Olfar suddenly seem at home onstage playing their blend of bass-y acoustic dream pop. Just as quickly as Olfar find their feet, the proverbial rug is pulled from under them by the truly wonderful Kyla La Grange.

The tremendously big-sounding quintet – fronted by the petite, yet powerful Kyla – produce a beautifully melodic, dancey beat to the delight of London. They mix slower, emotional numbers with an array of up-beat, post-rock influenced soundscapes. With a vocal range akin to Régine Chassange of Arcade Fire, the three-quarters full venue have almost forgotten about Olfar after this incredible display. Next single ‘Vampire Smile’ gets all five band members playing their hearts out in an amalgamation of big instrumentals, heavy bass and a soaring voice. Rounding their slot off on the flawless ‘Catalyst’, a huge heartfelt ballad filled with whimsy and emotion that’s in grave danger of stealing the night. But not if Beth Jeans Houghton has anything to do about it.

Known for being both eccentric and quirky, Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny give a somewhat toned down performance. Starting with a colourful display of power-pop and indie rhythms, the momentum slows and stutters as the young Houghton seems overcome with the abundance of industry bods judging her every move. Despite crowd-interaction not being her strong point (excluding the comment about that funny eels picture which earned a titter from rampant internet users), Houghton’s voice strings create a harmonious warble that fills the room a la Zola Jesus. The operatic overtones give the music an anthemic twist with an almost 80s soft rock feel. Smashing their way through ‘Lilliput’ and ‘Telephone’, the highlight comes from ‘I Will Return I Promise’. A certain Irish knees-up vibe blasts out of the PA system as Beth and her Hooves manage to get the so-far immovable objects down front dancing.

It might not have been her best performance but with a new album out in a few days (6 February), expect to see more of this group of synthesised minstrels throughout the year. Surely the best is yet to come.

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[…] tonight to prove why they’re headlining (it’s an incredible metamorphosis from the last time TGTF saw Kyla). There’s a spooky feeling in the air tonight as Kyla dances around the stage with the […]

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