Live Review: The Cairos, The Preachers

19 July 2012 | 11:18 am | Sam Hobson

The Valley, seemingly, doesn't age. It can be the Peter Pan of places, and in the darkest of ways, some nights. While you age, and grow weary of it, it doesn't, and each night it indiscriminately sheds the skin of yester for a new one; a scaly, reptilian tiling of fresh, impossibly younger bodies. Tonight, youths are staggering everywhere; short skirts, pumped-up kicks, high drama.

But Alhambra Lounge is an oasis from that. It draws perhaps the youngest crowd of almost anywhere in the Valley, and yet it's also got one of the friendliest atmospheres. Coming in from the din outside – the alley near the door is staggered with a chorus of barely legal girls, arms locked around their shoulders in rows across the pavement like a drunken foosball line – seems like a revelation.

Before long, a deep, obliterating bass seethes out from the small stage at our front, and the crowd whoops and cheers in a way that sounds both excited and scared. A taut, mod-rock beat prances The Preachers' first track into being; a song marked by the wondrous unison of the bass and drums. The male of their two singers has a voice that, to hear it for the first time raises the hair on your arms. His performance is something truly primal and heartfelt – these sounds like they're made from the very grit of his soul. Their tracks are each tremendously composed: layered, and lengthy, they shift and breathe like living things. The music is brimming with ideas, with each new phrase a tangent from the last, everything a gear-change, and somehow nothing jarring, or out of place.

The Cairos, who play promptly after, seem to cause a wash on the floor. Like something spilt, people run to the stage, meeting together in the dint at the front with a visible bump. Luna kicks off the evening, a song devoted to a gleeful, hypnotic, and skittering dynamic. It's a single-minded track, but very deliberately so: it's a pleasant mood-plateau, a palette cleanser. From that, they shade into a balmy crooner, an effectively familiar song in the vein of slick-haired '60s dream-pop. Seasons Of Snow follows that, boasting a taut perpetuation of indie-rock's (hopefully) fading calypso trend. The vocals, however, are woefully underappreciated in the swallowing throng of everything that's culminating to make tonight's noise. The Cairos are a tight band, and they're vibrant and colourful live, but things tonight just seemed a little rote. Perhaps it's the shadow cast by The Preachers, although it feels a little disrespectful to say that, however ultimately true. Take A Look At These Walls follows that, their pop-sensibility in full-swing, before Self Control from their new EP, begins to wind down their set.

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