Smoke Fairies @ KCSU London 9th October 2012
By: The Indie Dad
Smoke Fairies are , I think it can be said, ‘well fancied’ (and that isn’t a fnarr). They have built a solid following over the last few years and can count Jack White among their fans. Their output suggests dark wood sprites with a taste for the blues, two women in love with the night, backed here by a tight (though perhaps not permanent) band. Personally I was won over by their Record Store Day Covers 12’, especially the Chillwave take on ‘She Sells Sanctuary’.
The early part of the set is impressive, ‘Feeling It Coming Near’ comes over like Fleetwood Mac at the witching hour, a mogadon slow ‘Chain’, full of ill omen. Meanwhile ‘Erie Lackawanna’ is like Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ but swathed in the darkest cloak. Sometimes they are like a Laurel Canyon throwback, pristine vocals masking righteous anger or disgust.
‘Devil In My Mind’ from their first album, a paean to the Thames, is excellent – heavier drums than the recorded version usher in a bleak meditation that would have happily sound-tracked an early 80s series about ‘the troubles’ reaching London and works well as a band track. You can imagine Robert Plant doing something amazing with it (and I note Mark Lanegan has already had a go).
They really have a great catalogue but I can’t help feeling there is a little too much held back onstage. It could be end of tour fatigue but with this smoke, on the night at least, there’s no fire – I almost never think I’d prefer to be seated at a rock show but that comes to me tonight. It is more a Mass than a dirt-caked blues celebration and I yearn for a shit-kicking solo rather than the measured slide of ‘Hotel Room’ that keeps itself in check. Not that there are not several Classic rock treats, I have both Sandy Denny and All About Eve brought to mind and the new album title track ‘Blood Speaks’ is ‘She Moves Through The Fair’ as seen through a killers eyes.
The band are excellent throughout the only thing missing is a little abandon. The material, I suppose, does not invite exuberance and the final ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ exemplifies issue. It is every bit the glacial spectacle that I fell for but by now I rather long for the boot stomping excitement of the original.
A free download of Strange Moon Rising is at www.smokefairies.com
‘Blood Speaks’ is available on V2 Records