Warming up for the pop band Heir in The Wardrobe this evening is Goldsands and The Howl & The Hum. Goldsands take their inspiration from television series as they introduce one song to be based on Breaking Bad and another Game of Thrones. The Howl & The Hum win my heart with their opening chorus lyric ‘Back when you weren’t successful / back when you weren’t arrested’ sung from a stern faced manically staring front man. The quartet resembles The Rugrats aesthetically but their sound is dark and enticing with clever lyrics and some delicious guitar effects.
Heir are a five well-presented men who with one chord beckon everyone like flies to dance in front of the stage as the lights come up in the darkened Wardrobe. Frontman Tom Hammond dominates and perfects harmonies in chorus with the others. He often pauses his acoustic guitar to just sing with his arm aloft pointing towards the captivated audience. His stance and dancing display an energetic start to the set and the guitarist to his left is clearly enjoying the complementary female shriek from the audience.
Next they introduce a new track because ‘we’re in the North’ and the rest of the band seem more relaxed than Hammond, who is full of beans and loves thrusting body parts as he plays. Hammond has a crisp clean voice which is often raised to shout adding umph to repeated lines in between a mass amount of ‘ooo’s. Hammond swigs beer and chats to the audience before launching into the third song building around a throbbing synth and intermittent cymbal rolls. A choppy upbeat guitar complements the soundscape but the synth is not prominent enough. All five males join together singing in perfect harmony.
With catchy choruses and poppy piano effects, the drums maintain steady rhythms keeping momentum behind long held vocal notes. Hammond talks of musicians playing a ‘song live without being real which has gone out of fashion — this song isn’t one of them’. They begin simply with keys player moving to acoustic guitar and Hammond remains as solo vocalist. It’s not exactly Nick Cave but Heir’s lyrics go only as deep as ‘I’ve been here too long / You know I can’t let go’. The track builds more interest as the rest of the band join in creating a country vibe. The band are charged with intense emotion and the songs resound of a young teenage angst but the crowd all aged over 15 years are completely enthralled. The mood continues as Hammond describes their EP track ‘Castles and Islands’ as ‘really personal – when you’re going through shite but you’ve got people around you that are going to make sure it’s alright’. Another pop/country, catchy, acoustic guitar led song with Hammond looking close to tears as the bridge repeats ‘I know I’ll be here by the waves’. The room is loving the twee fixed sound and Heir show their intention successfully.
For the rest of the set hips are shaking on stage and the band playfully bounce off each other. They all shout the words and have a tightly led jam as they bop in unison. A mellow introduction is heard from just tambourine and vocals building to add kick drum and the guitarist singing in falsetto. Hammond disposes of his guitar and free to move; he is electric with passion from his toes to his mouth. Heir are prepared for their encore as they re-enter the stage claiming they have ‘literally just written a song it’s called ‘I’ll Pick You Up’’. Influentially more 80s than the 90s heard so far, the guitar chugs along and a constant synth chord glues all the instruments together; a preppy chorus and the crowd is gleefully clapping along. The gelled sound has high end guitar delivering this big finale. The synth twinkles melodic flourishes and the bass holds a solid core for a stealthy ending.
Heir are pop through and through but take themselves and their music seriously. Hammond was born to be on stage and their precise and perfect harmonies are spot on. Their fans loves them and their energetic and well prepared performance.