Dry The River | Live Review

By Serena Cherry

Falmouth three piece Tall Ships provide a dose of upbeat cinematic rock to warm up the heaving Monday night crowd, but their frequent use of predictable chord progressions files their efforts neatly away under the ‘something and nothing’ category. Despite their ability to write melodies which are easy on the ear, the band fail to harness any possible impact of the ‘loud/quiet’ dynamic which compromises the majority of their song structures. So whilst Tall Ships did indeed rock out enough for their front man to fall off the stage tonight, they left little else to be remembered from their merely functional performance.

If this sold out gig packed full of elated fans proves anything tonight, it’s that Dry The River are very easy to fall in love with. Not that Dry The River have anything to prove; as they appear to have been folk-rock-star bound since the release of their acclaimed debut album ‘Shallow Bed‘ in March 2012. But for the cynical eye, the untamed intimacy of their performance this evening is a passionate time bomb which may get lost upon the bigger stages they will soon require, due to the rocket launch of their musical career. But at least for the liminal moment, the lucky (and sweaty) hundreds in The Fleece can witness in close proximity how brightly this band are burning right now.

Dry The River waste no time in setting the lovely anthemic tone as they open their set with the bittersweet ballad ‘No Rest‘; the distinctive fragile wail of front man Peter Liddle leading the audience through twisting trails of poetic verse that finally reach stunning sentimental crescendos both musically and lyrically. It’s a work out for the heartstrings, and that’s just in one song.

The band then continue to ponder and progress their way through twinkling tunes that merge the lush folk of Fleet Foxes into the soundscapes of Mogwai; with the bumbling, endearing stage presence of all 5 members adding a pleasant dimension of natural, friendly banter in between songs; it’s refreshing to see a band whose lit-up eyes and beaming smiles are just as often directed at each other as they are at the audience.

When they launch into their latest epic single ‘New Ceremony‘, it becomes noticeable how their vibrant yet balanced live sound gives much more emphasis to the songs’ subtle creeping melodies and dreamy vintage guitar tones than the recorded version. But ultimately, it’s the final 2 songs ‘Weights and Measures‘ and ‘Lions Den‘ that provide the pinnacle of the dizzying highs Dry The River have hinted at through out their set. Firstly, the band emotively draw out the delicate acoustic intro of ‘Weights and Measures’ by playing a microphone-less rendition of its’ saddening verse; inspiring a heartfelt sing-along within the crowd which becomes quite a genuinely touching moment, and adds contrast to the explosive folk-rock chorus that follows.

Then the summery-yet-melancholy atmosphere of ‘Lions Den’ makes for a brilliant finishing move, as it builds up from the bands signature spine tingling vocal harmonies into a dueling violin and guitar racket, which is grandiose without being pompous. With performances like tonight’s, Dry The River have lovingly certified that their romantic folk-rock path can only seduce more ears and bandage more broken hearts along the way to their imminent musical success.