With everyone having been stuck indoors for a year and a half, might WH Lung just be the band we need right now as we emerge, blinking, into civilisation once again…?
- Naming your band after a Chinese supermarket;
- Featuring a lead singer who dances like the guy from Future Islands crossed with Bez, only more confused;
- Playing songs influenced heavily by German koshmische musik from the 1970s.
None of these are an automatic tick on the wish list of every record company or concert-going punter looking for a great night out as we emerge from multiple lockdowns.
And yet, appearances can be deceptive, as W.H.Lung made a rare public appearance in a sell out night at the Scala, Kings Cross, playing music from their new album Vanities, and debut Incidental Music.
The songwriting has moved on from the debut. Incidental Music was an album that dusted off Kraftwerk’s synthesisers from the attic and, who knows, introduced motorik beats to people who still have their own hair.
New album Vanities, on the other hand, sprinkles some dance floor synth pop over the whole shebang.
Lead singer Joe Evans brings a refreshing theatricality to his performance. Eschewing the minimalism of Kraftwerk, we are greeted by an outrageous pair of Nudie-suit style trousers which are overshadowed only by Evans’ bug-eyed dance moves. If that sounds like a criticism, it isn’t. Far more effected would have been a studied, serious Teutonic pose. Bring on the Bez.
But the new album has brought us forward a decade or two, noticeable especially when listening to bass player, Chris Mulligan, a man who favours playing the top of his instrument’s neck in true Peter Hook style, and keyboard/synth guru and sometime vocalist Hannah Peace, who drives a mixture of new and old beats from her professorial boxes of pulsing Enoesque trickery.
Thus is the listener transported from Neu! to Neu Order and Berlin to Manchester, which perhaps unsurprisingly is where the band, also featuring guitarist Tom Sharkett and drummer Alex Mercer Main, comes from.
Although two albums in, like many bands of this generation, pandemics have put paid to the opportunity for them to tour in the last couple of years, but you wouldn’t know it.
Evans is a quirky and entertaining presence while Sharkett stands to one corner conjuring strange sounds from his guitar like an indie-wizard. While the set begins with three new songs, of which “Gd Tym” and “Pearl in the Palm” are stand-outs, the live setting also enhances songs from the debut LP – songs like “Nothing Is” and “Inspiration!” build slowly, grow and then spring to life amongst the newer songs.
It’s a brief, hour long set, as it should be from a band with just two albums under their belt and it’s absolutely music to dance to in a slightly sweaty venue. We leave the Scala slightly too warm, and with a new “band to watch” on the checklist.
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