Cattle & Cane LIVE @ Village Underground, Shoreditch

The Village Underground was the venue of choice for the headline band Half Moon Run, an industrial looking building with overwhelmingly high ceilings and exposed walls, very Shoreditch cool but undoubtedly a total bitch to sound check in.

I was there to see Cattle and Cane, a band who’s name have been whispered in my ear for years. The six-piece band who originated as a family quartet took to the stage lulling the audience to a hush with ‘Red’, delicate, with a growling folk-like serenade from Joe Hammill. Drama built with a wealth of guitar strumming from the Stockton siblings, encompassing sister Helen. There was something sweet about the way she appeared slightly overwhelmed, the lights blinding them to the audience as they gazed into nothingness.

With a hiss-ting on the drums Helen began to sway behind her keyboard, revealing her smokey voice with ‘Rock n Rose’. Her pivotal role within the band became clear. ‘Belle’ was played with a scratching of guitar strings, hearing the tracks live they take on a new life, something that cuts deeper than the slightly Mumford and Sons sound of the recordings.

The venue smelt like crisps and stale sweat as a young audience began to drift in, rudely disinterested. The band joke, “The front row are siblings, but we ran out so we had to get these in” gesturing towards the violinist and drummer hiding behind on the small stage.

“Pull down the moon” was an irresistibly catchy tune, but gave notice to the poor acoustics of the room as the vocals were lost behind the instrumentals. They were gracefully fighting a losing battle against a poor set up.

Possibly their most well known song, “Sold my Soul” was the penultimate number. The plucking of strings and the dark room added to an eerie atmosphere, a haunting rendition that sounded so much more honest in the flesh.

Seductive Americana sounding “The Poacher” closed the show with an extravagant fusion of instruments. As brother and sister play off one another with their powerful voices the track culminating in an electric instrumental, a nod was given to the audience and the band humbly unplugged their instruments. Definitely worth seeing live.

Leanne Neale