Live Review: Farro, Natives and Greywind – The Key Club, Leeds – 18/11/2016

The last time Josh Farro visited our shores he was the lead guitarist in a pop-rock band firmly set on their road to superstardom. Now, two years after the distinctly ballsy decision to step away from said band, he’s back with his new outfit Farro and their brand of folk and Americana tinged indie-pop. Curious to see what the band had to offer Already Heard headed to the second night of their UK tour at Leeds’ Key Club.

We’re elsewhere chatting with Mr Farro himself for much of openers Greywind’s acoustic set, but we see just enough to suggest that both their songs and their onstage presence work rather better in this setting then their full band set we witnessed at Leeds Festival. That said, they’re still far from the finished article

Next up, New Forest outfit Natives make a live return after a hell of a long time away. While they’ve been gone they’ve acquired a shit ton of drums and a new tribal influenced sound. It’s a little perplexing in all honesty, coming off like they took a group outing to the Lion King musical and got more than a tad carried away.

Frontman Jim’s vocals are as pristine as ever, but often get lost amongst the mishmash of tribal drums, jungle synths and other electronic gubbins. Melody and chorus hooks, one of their strongest weapons last time around, are cut similarly adrift. There’s hints that there are some strong choruses lurking in these new songs, but they have no room to breathe or express themselves. And this is a set exclusively made up of new songs, lacking that all-important element of familiarity to anchor returning fans interest. Having a hoard of established excellent songs and not playing any of them comes across as madness. (2/5)

Anyone who had taken a chance on checking out Farro without first hearing their debut album, ’Walkways’, which dropped earlier this year, was probably in for a bit of a surprise. Usually, when a member of a successful band leaves to pursue new artistic endeavours there’s a fairly similar result to help with a crossover appeal to fans. That’s not particularly the case here, as from the off Farro’s live show comes across as being focused squarely on having the best possible musical output with a crafted, honed and intricate sound.

’Tigers Eyes’ provides an early highlight and shows the band can bring the intensity when they need to. Driving drums and big moody riffs play off tension laden synths to gorgeous effect, while a floating infectious chorus reminds us that Farro’s writing has lost none of its potency. Similarly, ’Lose You’ is another resplendent example of the maturity, scope and immediacy of his craft, even if it possibly gets a little too ‘Coldplay’ in places. That said, its vocal hook is entirely inescapable.

Two members of Farro’s backing band join him up front on harmony duty around a solitary guitar line on a delicate and evocative rendition of ‘Islands’, before the three voices combine to vocally haunting effect on a spellbinding performance of ’Home’. The band then rapidly ratchet up through the gears as some thunderous and impressive drumming interplays with jaunty keys and Farro’s most potent vocal performance on ’Cliffs’.

A sterling set closing airing of ’On a Wire’ is as close to things get to the all-out up-tempo pop of his previous outfit. But it also reinforces the impression that, although Farro may at its heart be floaty, expertly crafted indie-pop, the ease with which it incorporates elements of shoegaze, new wave and countless other musical elements is effortless, skilfully-executed and wonderfully-delivered. (4/5)

3/5

Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)

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