40 Watt Sun recently completed work on their follow-up to 2011’s critically acclaimed ‘The Inside Room’ and have been touring rigorously to showcase the new material (despite keeping a title, artwork and release date tightly under wraps). Old Empire brought the three piece out for an intimate London date at one of England’s oldest sites of Christian worship, where they played to a sold out crowd of just 130 people.
The Diamond Family Archive provide the evening’s only support; this mesmerising duo, masterminded by Laurence Collyer, play a hybrid of traditional folk wrapped in melancholy psychedelic soundscapes that paint picturesque portraits of the English countryside. The entire church is held captivated and you can almost hear a pin drop as this relatively unknown act enraptures with understated yet beautiful percussion and acoustic guitar. Not knowing what to expect makes this performance all the sweeter and perfectly sets the tone for the well-established gloom of Patrick Walker and co.
Despite the cosy surroundings, 40 Watt Sun play a fully electric set tonight. What’s noticeable first of all, however, is the distinct lack of distortion and the stripped down sound robs the band of some of their trademark devastating heaviness. Their set is comprised of mostly new material, four new songs to be precise, with a couple of fan favourites thrown in for good measure. New songs ‘Beyond You’, ‘Stages’, ‘Another Room’ and ‘Craven Road’, while pleasant enough, fail to hit the mark and seem not to resonate emotionally with much of the crowd. That tear jerking, yank of the heart strings atmosphere is absent and one can only hope that this is just an off night for the guys and that the new album will in fact be as powerful as everyone is hoping it will be. Disaster strikes when Patrick stops mid set after forgetting the words to ‘Restless’ (“I can leave no traces or I can move the stars in space”), a plucky member of the audience rushes to the stage, iPhone in hand, to help jog his memory and they start again. This blunder costs the song its feeling of saddening nostalgia, which is replaced in turn by giggles and awkward embarrassment. The set is saved somewhat by closing track ‘Carry Me Home’ – while not as hard hitting as previous live performances, it still packs an aching punch to the heart and leaves a few people teary eyed. Considering how quickly this show sold out and how anticipated it was, it’s disappointing that the band provided such a sloppy and shaky set – hopefully a one time occurrence, but only the eventual release of album number two can settle that.
(Review by Angela Davey)