It was, perhaps, a mark of how much Stolen Earth had impressed our seemingly increasingly disparate group of gig-goers when we saw them at the Post Office Club a few months ago that I was not only joined tonight by Roy, on a rare outing, but that Andy (who generally can’t commit more than a few days in advance) had also splashed out on tickets weeks ago. Add my wife to the mix and we had a reasonable turn-out.
Tonight’s gig had originally been advertised at Fibbers but, for various reasons, had later been moved to The Victoria Vaults, as smallish pub on the outskirts of York’s town centre. It was billed as an “intimate” gig but I wasn’t quite expecting how small the venue actually was. Even with Barry swapping full drum kit for a smaller, electronic version, the band took up about half the available floor space, with bass-player Paul tucked away behind one speaker stack and only John having more then enough room to move about in. (I guess that’s the advantage of playing keyboards – you get to build yourself a little fort in the corner.) The limited number of tickets available meant that the audience, while perhaps not having enough space to swing much more than a small cat, weren’t too squashed together, even if some of them were positioned away in little nooks and crannies around the bar. Having said that I did, once again, seem to get stood next to the one couple who were determined to talk very loudly during the performance, pausing in their chat only to politely applaud each song as it finished. Again, I ask, why buy a ticket???
It may have been a small venue, but it was a big performance. The set contained pretty much the same songs as the last time we saw them – I Live, Bitterness Fades, Mirror Mirror, Tuscany Sun, Unnatural Disaster, Soul In A Jar, My Lips Are Too Dry, Into the Virgin Snow, Silver Skies and Perfect Wave – but the sound was superb. So much so that I took time out to thank the soundman for a job well done. Each instrument was clear in the mix and both Heidi and Adam’s lead and Paul’s backing vocals came across superbly. Add to that a light show which never seemed to overwhelm, despite the amount of equipment on show giving the impression that it could have done, and we got one of the best pub performances that I can remember seeing.
Of course, being a Christmas gig, there were the obligatory Christmas songs and, towards the end of the set, Santa hats were donned as Heidi took as short break and the rest of the band performed I Believe In Father Christmas and Stop The Cavalry (with Barry’s facial expressions and near-comedy drumming during the latter providing no small amount of amusement). Heidi them returned for a brilliant rendition of A Spaceman Came Travelling.
There is a lot of variety in Stolen Earth’s songs, from the ethereal dual-acoustic, low whistle infused Soul In A Jar, through the atmospheric bottle-neck playing of Into The Virgin Snow all the way to the screaming guitar of My Lips Are Too Dry, but my highlight of the night was Perfect Wave which contained a brilliant solo from Adam, during which he could almost have been channelling Dave Gilmour, so Floyd-like was it.
With an album due out next year and a tour to promote it, Stolen Earth could well be a band on the verge of big things.