Gig Review: Silent Natives at The Horn, Bishops Stortford

‘The maturing musicality proved they are ready to make more noise than ever before.’

Gig Review:
Having featured Silent Natives twice before, including coverage of their Sofar Sounds gig last September, it was great to get the opportunity to hear them live once again. It also, with a very different setup and the very different atmosphere offered by The Horn, Bishops Stortford, was a chance to hear the more full-on side of their sound. So, with the soundcheck complete, it was time for them to make their way to the stage.

Beginning a set that would perfectly balance previously released tracks such as ‘Dead Man’ and ‘Sunlight’ with forthcoming ones, the trio led by singer-songwriter/guitarist Steve Jones and backed by bassist Rich Jones and drummer Chris Kemsley, gave us the opening notes of ‘Alive.’ Still yet to be released – although I’m led to believe it will be shortly – it was, with it’s earwormy vowel-based phrases a track that felt instantly familiar. However, the familiarity was also down to the fact it was the track that delivered the stand out moment at Sofar Sounds. This said, with Steve’s songwriting being the high quality that it is, even if it was the first time you had heard it – which for most it would have been – there was no doubting the level of connection found.

Following this gently crowd-pleasing opener, Steve provided some relaxed interaction involving jokey comments about being ‘blinded by the lighting’ and moved on to the third track of their Loosen Your Grip EP. Given the praise I gave it when reviewed almost two years ago, it was wonderful to hear ‘On the Run’ live and sounding as great – if not even better due to Steve’s developing vocal – it was no surprise that more people were drawn into the room. For those just arriving, they may have missed the first two tracks, but as it turned out they had arrived in perfect time for a debut performance of another forthcoming one ‘Rewire.’

Further showcasing the developing maturity of both Steve’s songwriting and vocal tone, the slower more exposed sound in the initial moments really stood out for all the right reasons. Nodding to acoustically-led folk influences of other tracks, the selective use of bass guitar and drums made it feel intimate. However, bringing contrast to the track, the second half saw the style change from intimacy to dramatically rhythmic, mallet-struck musicality. It indeed seemed like this would be the highlight of the night, but it was soon to get even better.

Sounding like we could have been hearing a polished recording rather than a live performance to this point, Steve handed us proof that it was indeed live. Introducing us to ‘Love It’ – the final new track to be featured in the set which would return to the EP afterwards – it began only to be stopped almost immediately by Steve himself. Getting carried away by the night, it turned out he had actually started with the chorus lyrics rather than those of the verse!

To be fair, if they had continued we may not have even realised until after, or until the performance fell apart through lyrical confusion. However, given that the very nature of live performance means things may, for even the most well known artists, not go to plan, attention turned to the way the trio dealt with it.

Shouting of true professionalism, Steve made light of it, joked about with both his band and us and then restarted like nothing had happened. Who know’s, it may have even given the track it’s extra energy! Either way, two things were certain: we loved the track and the pounding power proved that they are ready to make more noise than ever before. No surprise then that they are in the running to perform at Isle of Wight Festival later this year.

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Find out more about Silent Natives at: EP Review: Silent Natives: Loosen Your Grip and Gig Review: Silent Natives at The Steven Lawrence Charitable Trust

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