REVIEW: Band of Horses, O2 Academy (B’ham) – 28.1.11

Band of Horses - courtesy of Sony Music

Review by Ceri Black

Band of Horses, from Seattle but now based in South Carolina, describe themselves as ‘Indie Country Rock’. This is apt. With a casual stroll onto the Birmingham O2 Academy stage, checked shirts and trucker hats, BoH looked and sounded like they’d just rolled in from the trailer park. But their music has more substance than that, with deeply atmospheric guitars riffs supporting Ben Bridwell’s humble yet powerful vocals, BoH performed with confidence and ease.

Touring the UK with their new album, ‘Infinite Arms’, BoH’s performance didn’t feel like a standard PR exercise. Avoiding the contrived set list of latest releases, a broad selection from all three albums was played – a gig for the fans.

A new feature on tour was the band’s “Du Jour of the Day”; a cover song they’ve never played before. Birmingham’s homage was ‘Powderfinger’ by Neil Young, ironically an artist Bridwell has regularly been compared to. Favourites such as ‘Ode To The LRC’, ‘No One’s Gonna Love You’ and ‘Islands On The Coast’ prompted mass sing-a-longs from a strangely self-conscious crowd. But after a mighty performance of ‘The Funeral’, a flurry of applause erupted in demand of a well deserved encore.

One of the greatest things about seeing BoH play was not just the music they make, they clearly love performing as well. With permanent smiles and the occasional, uncoordinated, dance move their positivity flows, even reflected in the chirpy visuals that accompanied them on stage. The rapport between the US quintet is undeniable, and their effortless ability to not take themselves too seriously is echoed in their spirited yet laid-back songs.

In just six years, Band of Horses have flaunted the makings of an established rock band. A fervent fan base, original content, and even Bridwell’s comical, well handled on stage lyric lapse during ‘Factory’, all support their right to this status. On such as brisk, late January evening, BoH’s bought some much needed South Carolina sunshine to Birmingham.