Local band Empty Churches play to a near-empty Harley, setting a grim standard for the evening. They’re impressively loud, if a little unpolished, but excuse themselves by noting before their last song that it’s only their third ever gig. If they can keep up the enthusiasm then they’re certainly a band to keep an eye on.
But tonight is really about the main event: Hyde and Beast. Although their debut album Slow Down was principally recorded as a duo, The Harley’s small stage is grace by six smart-looking figures, who dive straight in to ‘If You Could Buy Me Anything’ with little introduction.
That’s not to say the group avoid talking to the crowd – or what passes for a crowd in The Harley tonight – throughout their entire set. They’re pleasant, taking the time wave and say hello after a few song, and saying thanks when the crowd is particularly responsive. It must be difficult to stay enthusiastic when you’re playing to barely more than a dozen people, and Hyde and Beast deserve some recognition for that.
Fan favourites such as ‘Never Come Back’ and ‘You Will Be Lonely’ are real treats live, but lesser-known tracks from their album are equally enjoyable, as their meandering psychedelic-folk is given an extra layer of sound by the new members. ‘Go To Sleep’, though short, is a highlight of the evening, and although it’s still delicate, in The Harley the sounds fill the room with a beautiful soundscape.
The lazy waltz of ‘Last Chance For A Slow Dance’ is similarly transformed into a bit of a bombastic romp, and precedes both ‘Got To Sleep’, and what we are told is a new song. The band introduce it by laughing and noting that things might go a little “pearshaped”, but they needed have worried; the new material is received well, and if anything, reinvigorates the crowd with the hope that one new song may mean an album’s worth of new songs further down the line.
So many elements of tonight’s gig work well; the drumkit, with its kaleidoscope of colours, stands out on the stage as a colourful beacon of what Hyde and Beast represent with their sound. The band end on a cover of Savoy Brown’s ‘Train To Nowhere’; it’s not the most well-known song but the audience still enjoy it, although judging by his ecstatic face nobody enjoys Hyde and Beast playing it more than their very own drummer Neil Bassett. Disappointingly, once the band have left the stage more people arrive at The Harley, with no idea of the brilliant evening they’ve missed out on.