There must be something slightly intimidating about bearing your soul to a sea of eyes and ears, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. But standing on the stage of former cinema Scala, facing an audience on many (literal) levels is perhaps even more bizarre: “It looks like a scary court room,” front woman Rachel Price tells the crowd over the hisses of a mist machine, “…in the apocalypse.”
Following a performance on Jools Holland (where they also provided backing vocals for Paul Simon), Lake Street Dive’s European tour takes in just two UK dates to promote new album, Side Pony. Describing the title track as “a hairstyle but also a lifestyle”, it’s a clear indication of the light-hearted, multi-genre style that began when they formed twelve years ago.
‘Godawful Things’ blends gospel and doo-wop, while a Beatles influence is clear on ‘I Don’t Care About You’, and ’Spectacular Failure’ merges Motown with all of the above. When they slow things down it’s easy to forget there’s just Mike Calabrese’s drums, Bridget Kearney’s upright bass and ,,”McDuck”‘s switching between guitar and trumpet behind Price’s vocal. On older number ‘Better Than’ they do gentle, the trumpet solo sharing centre stage, while ‘Close To Me’ (a bluesy rock ballad) sees Rachel hitting the sort of notes that make eyebrows involuntarily raise in awe.
It’s not just Price’s voice that’s right on the money, however, with all members joining for harmonies that are as strong as they are tight. From the Beach Boys’ like wails and “bop bops” of ‘Stop Your Crying’ to their backing of perhaps the most anticipated number of the evening, ‘You Go Down Smooth’. Latest single ‘Call Of The Dogs’ adds disco into the mix, before an encore that sees those harmonies sharing one mic, and only accompanied by the deep, guiding hums of the bass.
The fact that their influences are so confidently worn (they cover The Kinks’ ‘Lola’ and Hall & Oates’ ‘Rich Girl’), brought in by each member writing individually, is what makes the band’s natural sense of soul so authentic. And if you missed one of these two dates fear not; they’ll be back “sooner than you think”.