Paul Fitzgerald joins a sold out crowd at the Buyers Club to discover the true definition of a band on an evening of one special monent after another.
The final song of FLYTE’s set at Buyers Club, an acoustic version of Faithless, said it all. Everything you need to know about this band, this gig and the work ethic they’ve built their sound upon was there in this moment, held high on offer for all to see.
With the whole sold out room stood around them in silent awe, they stood in a circle in the middle of the floor, unplugged, and with just Will Taylor’s acoustic guitar for accompaniment. It was a climactic tour de force that left the whole room reeling. With Taylor’s warm rich vocal soaring up the octaves for the chorus like Jeff Buckley, with the rest of the band in tight, closer than close harmony, the lifts in their voices and the strength of the musical bond between them became almost tangible. There is absolute union in this band’s musicality. It is instinctive, unspoken and absolutely understood. In performance, they are as one, relaxed and confident in each other’s performance. The true definition of a band.
There had been a mood of expectation in the room from the very off. A clear feeling that we were about to witness something very special. FLYTE have certainly taken their time to get here. Their critically acclaimed album, The Loved Ones, was years in the making. Stoic and patient, they’ve determinedly honed their craft and sculptured the songs into shape, and through social media, they’ve steadily built a large and absolutely devoted fan base. The fans so eagerly singing the lyrics back at the band, just as they did at their Magnet gig a few months back, is clear testament of this.
From the opening bars of the first song, the album’s opener Victoria Falls, with its shuffling drums and high melodic bass line, and those ethereal choral harmonies, the promise this band hold was there. And they didn’t let up, clearly loving the moment and revelling in the chance to share it, this is a band with a real affinity to their audience and the sort of connection other bands dream of.
Sliding Doors was another highlight. Led by Sam Berridge’s cascading orchestral keys, and Taylor’s deft and subtle vocal, and yet more tightly bound harmonies, the choral elements holding a more than passing and pleasant resemblance to C Duncan’s work. Orphans Of The Storm is a darkly romantic and prosaic tale, which speaks of the great English writers who have so deeply inspired Taylor’s writing. Again, the natural warmth in his voice, and his ability to leap through the scales shines forth. Another special moment in an evening of special moments.
This wasn’t just an album show, though. A couple of crowd pleasers for the devoted made an appearance, in the shape of a song called Closer Together, a couple of years old and a firm favourite of the fans. This song and Harley Street are obviously loved by the band as well. By playing them early in the set, they loosened the nerves, and set themselves up for the rest of the set.
The album’s beautiful accapella closer, Archie, Marry Me, only seemed to gain even more beauty in the live setting. Rich, layered vocals pulled us in with their purity. It was a blissful and intoxicating moment which finally managed to silence the chatty fools in the crowd, if only for the briefest of moments.
In this performance, we caught FLYTE, confident, assured and with focussed ambition. Caught in the moment at the beginning of their own trajectory.
Earlier in the evening TV ME took further strides from their previous incarnations. The slight brooding darkness of the Tom Low period is set aside in favour of a newer, fresher vibe. TV and film samples, tight harmonies and drum machines form the backbone of this intriguing cosmic pop sound. The loss of a member has brought the necessity for the three piece to swap instruments throughout the set, and the effect is no less worthy for it. The hooks are all there, catchy as hell, with a smoother, slicker sound. There were some issues with the sound at the beginning, but once through that, the rest of the set proved that in TV ME we see the maturation of Tom McConnell’s writing, and his needle sharp ear for producing and arranging.
SPINN followed. There’s been much talk about this band lately, and frankly this writer found it hard to see why. As well as youth, they have two important things in their favour: time and energy. What they don’t have right now is songs. It appears they’ve spent far too many hours earnestly searching out the best early 80s indie records, but forgot to actually listen to any of them. All the effort seems to have been placed on paying attention to aesthetics rather than the actual music; the choice of guitars and haircuts given more import than the songs. Here tonight, they were surrounded on all sides by truly gifted songwriters. It is early days for them, so I hope they were listening.
Photos by Brian Sayle