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August & After - The Lexington, London (28th June, 2017)

LCM LIVE REVIEW

'Stream' Single Launch

A packed Lexington saw the launch of London indie-folk band August & After's new single 'Stream', which is due for release on the 30th June. It is the first release of a series of singles recorded by the band in Paris last October. It also marks the beginning of a bigger and fuller live sound, with Vedantha playing electric guitar rather than acoustic for the first time and the expansion of the band with the addition of keys and drums/percussion (first seen on their last EP Cascades).

The evening was started by special guest London based harpist and vocalist Ellen Reay, who the band first met at university. She performed an eclectic set of covers including 'Song To The Siren' (Tim Buckley), Pitseleh (Elliott Smith), the traditional folk classic 'She Moved Through the Fair' and 'Loving Circles' (Bowerbirds). Ellen also included one of her own compositions about a bad encounter with a man at a bus stop. Ellen had a lovely pure vocal and also used a loop station on some of her songs, looping harp and percussion. It will be interesting to see how she develops this in future performances. 

Then after a short break and to an enthusiastic audience August & After started their release show with the sublime 'Elegy', a track from their 2016 EP 'Cascades' This was followed by a new song, Ned's reflective homage to 'Airports'. An excellent solo by Jordan on this one. Next was the very popular lead single from Cascades 'Wolves', now complete with a new lovely three part harmony arrangement. Always a popular choice is their very catchy cover of MGMT's 'Kids', which was delivered with strength and feeling.

Pride of place went to their atmospheric and personal new single 'Stream', which Vedantha described as like an 'evening on Primrose Hill'. As explained by Ned the song "is loosely about perspective and the unattainability of certain ambitions, set in a ‘space context’." As a teenager, he would write song after song about staring up at the night sky. Some were about love, others about escapism; occasionally there was a fairly technical one about astronomy. "With “Stream”, I wanted to close the chapter of my song-writing life where I obsessed with space/stars, whilst using my childhood dream to one day travel into space as an analogy for my present day struggles to become an indie-folk musician".

The very touching 'Halley' reflected on the shortness and transient nature of human life. It captures the conversation a young Vedantha had with his father about Halley's Comet, which first introduced him to the notion of mortality. Halley's Comet is visible from Earth on average every 75 to 76 years or once a lifetime. 

Next was a tribute to their percussionist Dan who plays regularly with his band 4 Square, a cover of their song 'Digging Song'. This was keep secret even from Dan with a large ? on the band playlist. 'Waltz For Marie' from their debut album 'Embers' is always beautiful live and tonight was no exception.

With it's wonderful acoustic finger-picking 'Vancouver Waves' continues the reflective and personal theme. "You are the calmest wave that I've ever known........Hibernate until I'm on form again. The world can wait another year. Hibernate until I'm ok again. The tidal waves can't follow me here. So I came here to the island. I braved the stormy seas. The air is clear and silent. Far from some tragedies. The sunset's better than a painting. It calms my eyes with ease. But it's the saddest sky....that I've ever seen"

The last song in the main set was 'Salamander' was also from their debut album. Written by Ned and named by Ned's mum.

Very fittingly the encore song was a cover of 'Round Here' by Counting Crows from their 'August & Everything After' album, which gave the band their name.

Tonight's performance marked an exciting new chapter the the band's musical journey. It will be very interesting to see how they develop their richer sound in the coming months.  

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