West London troubadours show its business as usual after a rocky few weeks
When you get into a band you, rightly or wrongly, expect it to stay that way for ever. Things very rarely work out like that. For every Super Furry Animals you gets dozens of Blurs, Soft Machines and Sugarbabes. I thought Du Bellows were rock solid as a quintet, but in May guitarist Darley Mylan left the band. The details are still hazy, and it’s not my place list them here, but something wasn’t quite right. The last few times I saw them live I noticed that Mylan’s behaviour was getting more and more ad hoc and his attire more and more outlandish. While I don’t have a problem with people in bands dressing up, I do start to worry if the rest if the band don’t join in as well.
As soon as I heard the news I thought to myself “How’s it going to work now?” Despite his appearance and on stage verbal ditherings, Mylan’s guitar playing really held the songs together and from a few ‘simple’ notes or riffs he could change the feel of a song, adding emotion or emphasising the empathy of the lyrics. Last night at the Troubadour, in West London, was the first time I’d seen the band since his departure. Although I’d spoke to people who has seen them since about the changes and a few members about what to expect the next time I see them, I still wasn’t 100%, in my head at least, how it was going to pan out.
The Troubadour was rammed and due to the heat outside, it felt like a Turkish bath at times. But a Turkish bath you could drink and listen to great music in. Opening act was Finish singer songwriter Tomi Saario. He was fine, in a James Bay/Morrison/Blunt kinda way. Basically you’ve heard it all before, even down the to the ubiquity cover of Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. Next up was London based Lauren Ray. Her set was piano/keyboard driven and while her songs were pleasant there wasn’t much in the way of feeling or variety to her set. If Ray was your mate it would be great to go and see her perform, sadly she isn’t so after a few songs I started to clock watch.
Du Bellows too to the stage about 9:30 and for the next forty minutes they had the audience eating out of the palm of their collective hands. Old favourites like Dry Flowers and Isa rubbed shoulders with new tracks. Now I know what you’re thinking, was Mylan’s absence noticeable? The answer is yes, but maybe not for the reasons you think. The first difference was rhythm guitarist TJ Shipton had interspersed his dextrous playing with elements and lines from Mylan’s parts. Also bassist Richard Leeds had also begun to incorporate old guitar runs in his playing, at times if felt like Leeds was playing rhythm guitar with his bass. David Watkinson’s drumming had also grown to fill the gaps left by Mylan’s. But the major change was Jade Williams seemed comfortable at the front, with her beautiful hybrid of ethereal, yet profound vocals taking centre stage. After they finished the stage was rubble and the remaining bands looks slightly worried as to how they’d follow that up, which they sadly couldn’t.
So it’s business as usual with Du Bellows. They’re still making euphoric and anthemic driven rock, think Fleetwood Mac with Geezer Butler and Richie Blackmore and you’re close. Yes there were two or three moments where Mylan was missed, but I know that the band are well aware of these blackspots and are thinking of inventive ways to fill them in. What’s more the new material sounded phenomenal. It can only be a short time until one of West London’s best hidden secrets bursts out and take their place on main stages across the country.