Prior to last Saturday, The Ledge hadn’t listened to The Veils at all, but something prompted him to put on Nux Vomica - which I’d told him he would like when I first played it – and he liked it enough to refer to them as his “new favourite band” when I got home on Monday after a weekend away.
As luck would have it, his sudden obsession with The Veils neatly corresponded to a visit by them to Manchester and he wanted to go see them play, despite the fact I had spent the 90 minutes prior to leaving for the gig in a kickboxing class (getting into the house with barely enough time to have a (very) quick wash and to change clothes). Obviously, I went with him, as Finn Andrews has an amazing voice and I can hardly refuse to watch a band clearly influenced by Nick Cave and whose second album (we’ve not heard the new one, Sun Gangs, yet) has moments that also sound like The Drones, another Antipodean band that fascinates me.
We missed both opening bands, had time for a brief chat with a co-worker of The Ledge’s, and then the band were on – to a tiny crowd. I am actually surprised at how few people turned out between the great reviews I’ve read, their cult potential and the obvious Nick Cave influence. It’s a shame really because they deserve to be playing to larger crowds – although the mournful, dark ballads suit a venue like The Ruby Lounge.
Although The Veils are a band, the show was all about Finn Andrews, and this is the band’s second incarnation – as he sacked the musicians who played with him on the first album. Owing to this, calls for “Lavinia” and “The Leavers Dance,” off The Runaway Found, were refused. He not only swapped guitars between practically every song, he also treated us to some quieter moments on the piano. His soaring voice was done no favours by the sound system in the venue, but as we were close enough to see the sweat on his brow, I can’t doubt the sincerity and earnestness of the performance. What I was surprised about was him chatting between songs – I pictured a dark, introverted, difficult performer, yet he smiled, he kept thanking us and he looked like he was having fun. It is also surprising to find a singer so slight with such a powerful voice.
I’m not going to pretend I recognised even half the songs – even though I should as we’ve got the first 2 albums – but “Advice for Young Mothers to Be” stood out, as did “Not Yet,” introduced as a song about moving out of your parent’s house – surprisingly as I thought it was about coming out. “Jesus for the Jugular” was as manic and intense as on the album, prompting a lot of guitar chicanery and rock star posing, and “Under the Folding Branches” was touching and beautiful.
The new tracks were not entirely distinguishable from older material, but as we’re still getting to know the older albums here, this was neither unwelcome or disappointing. I quite liked the final song of the night, “Scarecrow,” before which Andrews implored the crowd to be quiet for three minutes through the quiet number. I hadn’t noticed talking behind me – other than a very enthusiastic (and very tall) man to my left trying to tell his friends what he liked best about the band – but perhaps the band had.
I would very much like to get to know Nux Vomica better and to hear Sun Gangs and then see The Veils live again, because I think it would very much enhance the experience because on the evidence I think there’s quite a lot about these songs worth getting to know.