Venue: 13th Cafe/Glasgow (29/03/11) With Her Name Is Calla arriving in Glasgow on a breezy otherwise unremarkable Monday night, for what must be their umpteenth tour of Britain’s small, basement venues in the last year and a half, I couldn’t help but wonder when the penny is going to drop and people start to attend these gigs in their droves, allowing this band to grace the bigger stages they so richly deserve. Still I admire their diligent enthusiasm, as this Leicester quintet clearly love performing live. But let’s leave that for later in the article.
First up on this three-band-bill-for-£6 night at the kind of rundown 13th Note, were Glaswegian youngsters Analogue of the Sun. I’m 99% certain they used to be called Redword and I have reviewed them before, stating that they had a lot of promise but needed to iron out a good few rough edges. Though they try hard to be different and keep the audience on their toes with jarring chords, superfluous screams, quirky time signatures and even quiet trance-like keys/synth work, there’s still something all too familiar with their sound. Blurring the line between Prog, Post-Rock and Post-Hardcore and throwing in extra helpings of Mike Patton-esque weirdness for good measure, There’s plenty of light and shade in their mix, but they definitely need to work on vocals, especially when harmonising and perhaps add a touch of variety into their setlist.
I’m going to cut Birds of Passage (Alicia Merz) some slack, as we were later told her timid performance was perhaps down to the fact it was only her second gig…ever. There was some pretty vinyl featuring her LP, courtesy of Denovali Records, at the merchandise table, though I decided to abstain since I wasn’t over impressed by her performance. Although she has a nice voice, each track soon followed a similar path with breathy vocals over either sparse Labradford-like guitar and synth lines and/or pre-recorded music and beats emanating from an Apple Mac, wit Merz digitally layering each part atop of one another. For me, there needs to be more in a live performance, though like I said it was only her second ever show. Nice enough, as the songs on her soundcloud page show, but not really my cup of tea.
Which leaves Her Name Is Calla’s monumental performance to talk about. Playing latest album ‘The Quiet Lamb’ almost track for track, until it was intercepted by new single ‘Maw’, immediate highlights included a spine-tingling ‘A Blood Promise’ which fully showcased frontman Tom Morris’ rich vocal range and a stunning rendition of ‘Long Grass‘, where the band opted out of using the PA, dragged the crowd closer to the stage and proceeded to perform it in its beautiful, acoustic and harmonic glory. A raucous, but slightly rough, 15+minute version of ‘Condor And River‘ is always welcome in these parts, with the melancholic violin really coming to the fore along with the added trombone and later screams/sounds from multi-instrumentalist Thom Corah, but it seemed the band were saving themselves for a surprise ending of older track ‘New England‘, which was particularly visceral and rather loud — closing off another excellent performance from the Calla troupe and worth the admission fee alone. A quite special show that less than a hundred people were lucky enough to witness. Which is my one regret of the evening, more people need to see this band live because on this form we cannot afford to lose them. Judge for yourself with the free download live EP below.