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And Also The TreesAnd Also The Trees
Lonely Walk
Point Ephémère, Paris
Friday May 3 2013

 



Now here's an irony. And Also The Trees - this most English of bands - seem to tour France rather more extensively than they play their home country these days.

Notwithstanding the present resurgence of interest in all things post-punk in the UK - in which AATT, as alumni of the original surge, can certainly claim grandfather rights - they're still the maverick outsiders. Not quite obscure, but never quite stars, either. And, although all things post-punky are the focus of much attention right now, little of that attention seems to have been directed at And Also The Trees.

Perhaps that's just the way the band like it, for they've continued to plough their idiosyncratic furrow with scant reference to the rock 'n' roll world at large for three decades now. There's a lot to be said for simply being left to get on with it - and that's what AATT have been doing for the thirty-odd years of their career.

And they'll be doing it tonight in Paris, at the repurposed industrial building of Point Ephémère (think of Electrowerkz, if they did live bands properly). Strangely, the half of Point Ephémère that's not used for rock 'n' roll purposes seems to be the local fire station, which should be handy if the And Also The Trees barmy army goes wild and sets the place alight.

Support band time. Calling yourselves Lonely Walk is a bit of a hostage to fortune, surely - sooner or later some wag will inevitably suggest that it means nobody likes the band. Fortunately, plenty of people in Point Ephémère tonight seem to like Lonely Walk. I'm quite partial to them myself, on the strength of this performance.

Lonely WalkThey're a garagey-psychedelic thing, all fuzztone bass and vocals that seem to drift at you through fog. The sound is multi-layered, atmospheric, but always has a ragged edge - which, it must be said, is essentially down to those grinding basslines, which dig in so deeply they practically undermine the venue's foundations.

In a way Lonely Walk remind me of a slightly less full-on A Place To Bury Strangers: they're prepared to let their songs unwind with a loose-limbed ease, rather than going at 'em full-tilt. Yes, I like Lonely Walk. Sign me up for the psychedelic ramblers' association.

And Also The Trees arrive on stage with the measured dignity of a troupe of poets assembling at an eisteddfod. This band does not indulge in rock 'n' roll grandstanding. They're taciturn and purposeful, vocalist Simon Huw Jones looming at the mic stand like an old school Doctor Who in an overcoat that's practically a work of architecture. A plangent twingle-twange of guitar starts up - one of the first things you learn about And Also The Trees is that they're very keen on plangent twingle-twangles of guitar - and the band ease in to 'What's Lost Finds', a rather awkwardly titled new song that nevertheless neatly encapsulates the classic And Also The Trees sound.

TAnd Also The Treeshat sound is instantly recognisable. Meticulous in its detail, folk-infused without quite being folk, dynamic without ever going near the gormless gaucheries of rock. The vocals are an understated croon; the lyrics tell tales that coud be taken from the works of Thomas Hardy, set to the ching and chime of the guitar and a precise, understated, rattle of drums.

It says much for the cumulative effect of all this unshowy musicianship that And Also The Trees still manage to generate a big, powerful sound, without ever giving way to rock 'n' roll histrionics. I speak as one who likes rock 'n' roll histrionics - but sometimes, it's nice to experience a band that can make the big drama happen without all the usual fuss.

If it's drama you're after, try the brooding murder ballad that is 'The Legend Of Mucklow', or the guitar-flourishes and vocal commotion of 'A Room Lives In Lucy', an oldie that even now has all its eighties-ness intact.

There's 'Bloodline', a virtual sea shanty set to bowed bass, and the sudden tension of 'Virus Meadow' upon which Simon Huw Jones drops his poetic restraint and comes over all melodramatic. "The rooks! They seem to follow him!" he intones with fatalistic dread, and somewhere Nick Cave is kicking himself for not coming up with that line.

Nothing if not masters of bringing a gig to a climax, the band wrap things up with a bona-fide anthem. The audience immediately recognises the guitar intro (mind you, the audience has immediately recognised all the guitar intros tonight) and cheers 'Slow Pulse Boy' into existence.

And Also The TeesIt's And Also The Trees' no-shit showstopper, and how could it not be with this opening line: "Somewhere, the blast furnace explodes."

You can't top something like that, so the band make their farewells - "Always a pleasure," remarks Simon Huw Jones, as if he's just been for tea at the vicarage - and they're gone. That's And Also The Trees in a nutshell: a one-band masterclass of reserved understatement that packs a deceptively powerful punch. How very English.


 

And Also The Trees: Website | Facebook

Lonely Walk: Website | Facebook

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