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Vessels at The Queen of Hoxton – Live Review

The Leeds-based experimental-rockers were joined by Stuart Warwick and Humanfly at the Queen of Hoxton on Wednesday 17th November 2010.

Written by Gemma Milly

Vessels by Faye West

Vessels by Faye West

It was with more than a little excitement and anticipation that I arrived at the bar-cum-club that is the Queen of Hoxton on a rainy Wednesday evening. Hidden away behind Liverpool Street station, the venue wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it was very quiet and a little like walking into a low-rent American diner. But that’s all by the by – Vessels are one of those bands that could play in a public toilet and create the kind of spine tingling atmosphere that would immediately transport you to a dreamy, other-wordly place and envelope you in a blanket of sound.

It’s fair to say I have something of a love-affair with the music that flows so effortlessly from the instruments of Leeds-based post-rockers Vessels. Fresh from touring Europe with the magnificent Oceansize and with a new EP to boot, it was a treat to have the chance to catch them on one of only a handful of UK dates.

Vessels band - Jes Hunt

Vessels by Jes Hunt

So how to describe Vessels? C’est difficile, but let’s take Walking Through Walls as a fine example to dissect: I would say “post-math-rock with a couple of intricate time signature changes thrown in, embellished with ambient harmonics which gradually builds to a thundering climax with drumming that would give Tool a run for their money, leaving you with the most beautiful, haunting melody, making everything around you melt away.” No lyrics are necessary, everything you need is right there courtesy of Vessels’ expert instrumental abilities.

Put simply, Vessels are a whole other kettle of fish. And seeing them live tonight was no exception. The venue was wonderfully intimate, with candles flickering in the darkness, occasionally reflecting off the mirror balls, which hung in clusters from the ceiling and twinkled like little stars. After the heavy, energetic, Converge-esque hardcore of support act Humanfly, Vessels were like the calm after the storm, albeit an expansive, orchestral juggernaut of calm.

Interior of the Queen of Hoxton club

Interior of the Queen of Hoxton

Their set was a mixture of old, in shape of classics such as An Idle Brain and the Devil’s Workshop and Altered Beast, and new – a definite highlight being the sublime and artfully named single ‘Meatman. Piano Tuner. Prostitute.’ This particular track is a mesmerising combination of meaty guitar riffs, with twinkling piano and a melody reminiscent of an old music-box. Dream-like vocals come courtesy of Stuart Warwick who also provided support and sang live on the track before sneaking out to ‘catch his tube’ home. (Something that I should possibly have been thinking about but was too caught up in the atmosphere to realise the time). This man’s voice is so beautiful I’m sure my jaw was on the floor for much of the track. This segued nicely into more new material, which in true Vessels style was a powerful slice of ear-popping rock pie finished off with a sprinkling of intricately layered atmospherics. Their closing track built to epic proportions before stopping dead…Leaving the crowd in a cosy, post-orgasmic haze. This all set to a back-drop of floaty, ethereal visuals displayed on a huge screen at the back of the stage, combined to create a real feast for the senses.

And with that, I headed back out into the cold drizzly night to catch my train, but comforted by the satisfying afterglow of a truly beautiful gig.


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