Live Review – The Howl And The Hum

The Howl And The Hum

The Sunflower Lounge

Review by John Frazer

The Howl And The Hum

Headliners tonight are The Howl and the Hum. A four piece who hail from York who really started to make waves in 2018, making a string of festival appearances and have already it seems set the foundations for 2019 to really be their year.  The band consists of singer songwriter Sam Griffiths, Brad Blackwell, Conor Hirons and Jack Williams.

They already are pretty tour hardened and have some truly exceptional material which could be, depending on what you pick from their stable of perfectly crafted spikey indie pop, equally at home on Radio1, Radio2 and of course 6 Music, such is their appeal.  They have been on tour in 2018 with both Sunflower Bean and Boy Azooga and surely should be targeting a Glastonbury appearance which could be a catalyst to something much bigger for the band.

They start their set tonight with ‘Terrorforming’ which is one of their most delicate offerings, which itself is a brave start to their set in this dark, packed, sweaty room as there is literally no hiding place. Yet Griffiths’ delectable voice holds the room so effortlessly that by scanning the tightly packed room it’s easy to identify more than a handful of romantic souls staring at him open mouthed at the sheer beauty and sense of scale in his voice. He can literally do anything with it. We will all come to realise by the end of the night that his voice remains just as potent at this opening gambit as it will when the lights come up at the end of the set. There are many influences I selfishly amass from listening to Griffiths tonight, as diverse as Tim Booth, Tom Odell, Jeff Buckley and Joe Newman but that maybe unfair on Griffiths. His playfulness on stage belies the seriousness of their music and I’m really not sure if he himself grasps just how good he is or could go on to be.

The band have got a little bit of everything and though there is certainly an ambiguous indie pop core, their music oozes with beauty, whether it is played slow, purposely wistful or whether they decide to go full on rock and roll mode as make no bones about it, this lot can proper rock out and are truly comfortable with their material and in their roles in the band, whatever the pace of their music. Griffiths regales us with a tale of listening to The National and perhaps they, Cold War Kids and the Augstines, mixed with a pinch of the British-ness of Alt-J are not a bad indicator of where the band is musically.

After spellbinding us initially they pick up the pace, blasting through heavier tracks ‘Manea’ and ‘Potrait I’ which give everyone in the band an opportunity to show us what they can do and they do not fail to deliver, inviting us to their high tempo sweaty set which continues into ‘Murder’ and slows back up on ‘I Wish I was a Shark’, where again frontman Griffiths, eyes closed, right arm aloft, holds the assembled bodies making it feel as if it’s you alone he’s singing to in this room full of strangers.

They treat us to two new songs then leave us with ‘Hostage’, then their final track, the subtly beautiful ‘Godmanchester Chinese Bridge’. It turns out to literally be a jaw-dropping set delivered by a band genuinely capable of incredible music. Catch them now because to plagiarise them in ‘Manea’, ‘once they go they won’t come back this way’, at least not a venue where you can get as up close and personal as tonight.

Alex Ohm and his band are a four piece who hail from the Midlands. Alex is also well known as the former frontman of Wolverhampton band ‘The Lines’. Alex’s set is superbly energetic and is a frenzied blast through his own brand of rock and roll which belies the gentle beautifully crafted music he has put onto record, as his impressively excellent band give us a different dimension to his music as they exude a much more energetic and heavier even grungier set. There are many influences from Alex that change with the individual songs. There are elements of Thom Yorke, David Gray and Fleetwood Mac at their most bluesy. They start tonight with ‘This Is Not My Problem’ and give us a set of his latest music including some new tracks before finishing with ‘No Illusions’. If Alex Ohm is not on your radar already then it is certainly a name to seek out in 2019, as they were truly excellent tonight and warmed our cockles magnificently on this freezing cold Sunday night.

Tonight’s opening set comes from two piece Lilleburn who are two local lads from Birmingham who immediately stood out looking effortlessly cool in their matching ensemble of white shirts and black slacks. They play a short yet noisy set of six really well-crafted songs with an exceptional cover of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ thrown in for good measure which was very well judged as it suited them superbly well. Their sound is inspired in part seemingly from 80’s alternative indie and electronica and it definitely grew in confidence as their set progressed. Their modern version of progressive indie rock had influences from Blow Monkeys to Placebo with a touch of Brett Anderson thrown in and gave a really energetic, impressive performance.

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