Live Reviews

Common Tongues, The Limited & Big Tooth @ Hoxton Underbelly

One of my regular East London haunts was brought into life last month by a line-up of three bands that had one over-riding factor in common; the harmonies were exquisite. Though there may not have been an massive amount of stylistic consistency between the three bands, each of them filled with a unique charm that made for an evening of top quality entertainment.

Kicking things off (because the lure of the pub had unfortunately delayed our entry, meaning we only caught the tail-end of Kaitlin Riegel who did sound wonderful – albeit just for a single song…) were Common Tongues who provided the room with sounds that were about as close as any of us were willing to get to Mumford and Sons without losing our rag. Not that they deserve to be likened to everybody’s go-to hate band, this bunch of lads are absolutely incredible and each of them added something wonderful to a sound that had plenty of bite yet soothed your ears with each last harmony. Particular praise has to be given to one member of the band who excelled at vocals, violin, synth, guitar and I’m pretty sure there was a mandolin in there somewhere. Nothing beats a good multi-instrumentalist, particularly when they’re able to work so in-sync with the rest of the band.

Sat in the middle of this musical menage-a-trois were the equally exquisite The Limited who brought a second batch of harmonic beauty to the evening, particular kudos to the bassist who never seemed to take a break or hesitate for even a second. That being said, there wasn’t a member of the band who didn’t seem to be playing their heart out and there’s an awful lot of potential in this lot. I might just have to go and see them again. A few times.

Closing off proceedings were the hearty lungs of Big Tooth, combining a lead vocal more powerful than an opera-trained singer with an array of guitar riffs that had me giggling with glee. Worryingly literally. Once more everything came together with intertwining melodies mixing with harmonies that would blow you away while the band remained a level of being effortlessly cool. They were able to fill the room with sounds as large as a parade of elephants who have just acquired a truck-full of vuvuzelas.

When you come across a line-up as strong as this you start to wonder if there’s any sub-par music out there at all. Of course, there’s plenty of it, but if you stick to seeing bands like these then you’ll believe that there’s no such thing as a bad gig.

Ciaran Steward

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