21 February 2015 (gig)
27 February 2015
One of the wonderful things about a folk gig is how perfectly unassuming they can be. There’s no pretence of grandeur, nor is there a need for it. The absence of ego cleared space at The Alleycat on Saturday night, space that was filled by pure musical sincerity and by the end of Yeti Love’s set, an affected audience.
Peter Hamilton and Dave Sears make up the folk centric two-piece who used both their Celtic and Latin guitar music influenced repertoire to pile on the atmospherics at Denmark Street’s renowned venue.
Yeti Love are last to perform and with things running slightly behind schedule, there’s concern that by the time the band's slot arrives, the audience will have dissipated. Fortunately, there seems to be an immediate engagement between audience and artists that keeps the attentive assembly there until the final curtain.
“Saints of White Lines” acts as one of the biggest homages to the duos talents, which resonate throughout the night. Hamilton’s vocals effortlessly sweep over rhythmic guitar strums and fascinating interludes on the mandolin, injecting their diverse influence into each pluck and warble. Everything about the performance feels completely infused in the moment and it doesn’t take a genius to see that the crowd is entirely enchanted.
“Lonely Road” is the single queued for release. Again, impressive flourishes of vocals side by side with the varied influence build a sound and an atmosphere that’s impossible to quash. Profoundly simple lyrics and complex instrumental passages make for one of the catchiest songs to come from the evenings proceedings: a wise choice for public delivery.
Yeti Love spend their set veering back and fourth between the sounds of Americana, Blues and Alternative Folk with expert precision - each sub-genre being smothered with gloss of authenticity.
Among other acts taking the stage is the evening’s special guest, Will Varley: folksinger, poet and storyteller who in 2011, in true Woody Guthrie style, embarked on a one hundred and thirty mile walking tour across the country; sleeping in barns and camping by canals. Taking the stage shortly after Yeti Love, the lyrically gifted and musically dexterous singer/songwriter ensures the now swelling ambience remains, performing an intense and impressive set.
Denmark Street, or “Tin Pan Alley” as it is famed, was once the hub of the UK music industry, playing host to the NME, The Melody Maker, The Stones and The Sex Pistols. The big names have long since packed their bags and said goodbye to the cobbled Soho Streets, but the closure of 12 Bar Club and Enterprise Recording Studios as part of the redevelopment of the area has threatened the soul of the acclaimed London walk way.
The awareness of Denmark Street’s history seems to make gigs here seem all the more memorable. Knowing that by 2020 London’s “Music Alley” is likely to be the home to glass panelled apartments named after villages surrounding the Dordogne and a boutique Pret A Manger leaves a looming feeling.
Exiting The Alleycat as the night’s performances draw to a close, it’s difficult not to feel as though the spirit of the street could still be saved. Tonight we heard folk, but we also heard originality, innovation and presence - all anchored by raw musical talent.