Review: Vetiver @ Cecil Sharp House, London. Feb 28th 09.

Vetiver @ Cecil Sharp House, Feb 28th 09 by

Veitver – Miles Apart

‘It’s hard to concentrate with this jazz sexscape going on up here, in fact that’s going to be the name of my new jam band’ says Andy Cabic, Vetiver’s mercurial frontman. He’s talking about the bizarre mural spanning the width of this hall at Cecil Sharp House, the home of the English Folk, Dance and Song Society. The Society has opened its doors to this San Franciscan band for their sold out show this evening. Word of mouth going round the toilets is that the concert is the Guardian’s best thing to see in London tonight but for the record I’m pretty sure MusicMule recommended it months ago!

The band, as ever, seem to be in a relaxed yet musically focused mood. The first track I note is ‘You May Be Blue’ from Vetiver’s 2006 album To Find Me Gone (TFMG). It’s one of the jammier tracks, of which there are several, up Vetiver’s collective sleeve. It starts with a chugging guitar riff and slowly gathers steam for three minutes before eventually breaking out into a mini psych-folk rock out which is stopped, as always, with perfect timing.

Hearing their music on record and reading about Andy Cabic’s associations with Devendra Banhart (Andy co-founded Gnomonsong record label with him and plays as part of Devendra’s touring band amongst other things) people could be justified in expecting a messy bunch of hippies! Not the case. Vetiver sure have the hair but they’re snappy dressers, beards sculpted, shirts and waistcoats mostly crisp and even Andy’s belt is meticulously engraved with what seems to be some sort of Wild West landscape.  An attention to detail reflected in their music.

‘Down at El Rio’, with its warm sound enveloping the crowd, helps get us all on the same dreamy level as these sunny Americans. A couple of new tracks, ‘Sister’, as well as one of their poppiest numbers yet, single ‘Everyday’, are highlights from forthcoming album Tight Knit, the release of which we’re told has been pushed back to March 9th. ‘Miles Apart’ is an A.R. Kane cover, which apparently popped up as a B-Side on a Vetiver covers 7 inch in 2008, it’s the first time I recall hearing the track but with its irresistible groove it’s a welcome addition.  ‘Been So Long’ an album opener of old (TFMG) transports us back in time further again, its hazy organ sound and slow drums knock knocking their way into your consciousness and sweet backing vocals hovering above Andy’s gentle voice. Perfect.

Another new song titled ‘Another Reason To Go’ dedicated by Andy to ‘all those hard on their luck right now’ is welcomed by the crowd for both it’s sentiment and delivery. By now I feel spoilt by the musicianship on show and am checking my watch to see how much longer I have to enjoy. Before I have time to worry too much, guitarist Kevin Barker straps on a mouth organ for undoubtedly one of my top tracks ‘I Know No Pardon’. Andy’s lyric of ‘I climbed so high the sky came down to teach me, how to lay low, how to keep my feet on the ground’ is just one great line from a great song.

Vetiver @ Cecil Sharp House, London. Feb 28th 09 by

We’re told that like the band’s previous visits to the old Spitz venue that as there’s no offstage area to hide in there will be no encore, they will just play three more tracks. Straight shooting then, no messing around. By this stage though the band more or less abandon their set list and give in to the crowd’s will, accepting a request for a Bobby Charles cover as the first of the three before playing a rockier number, future B-side ‘Wishing Well’. Time is slipping away but we’re thankfully treated to one more track from TFMG, the upbeat ‘Won’t Be Me’ and everyone is on their feet to dance along and bring the show home as if it needed any more help.

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One Response to “Review: Vetiver @ Cecil Sharp House, London. Feb 28th 09.”

  1. Were you at this gig or just want to talk about Vetiver? Leave your thoughts here if so.

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