It’s been an odd and unsettling few months to be in this country. Through it all though the thought that the likes of the Trembling Bells couldn’t come from anywhere else has come as a comforting thought. that mix of folk, psychedelia, whimsy and a bit of a fighting edge speaks of much of the best of the nation. But did they belong here in the Regather Works?
The Lamplight Club has been a superb addition to Sheffield’s live music world, pulling some fine songwriters perform in a superbly intimate venue. But a lot of them have been ‘voice and guitar’ performers suited to the small stage. I’d not seen the Trembling Bells live before but, for all their folk roots, from their records you sensed they were a bit more, erm, unbounded than the usual fare here.
There was certainly no need to worry about the band themselves. On record they’ve been getting steadily more out there (and better) as time goes on – seemingly especially emboldened by joining up with the excellent Will Oldham. Playing a mix of new/recent songs and stand outs from the wonderful The Sovereign Self album they are great. Lavinia Blackwall’s cut glass vocals and keyboard swirlings might be the most obvious attraction, but the whole band, with drummer and co-vocalist Alex Neilson driving things on (and even finishing the night off with a moving a capella effort) are great – moving from quiet and careful to an abandoned noise with ease.
Whether Regather, with the audience hanging back tentatively and politely, was quite the place for them is a different matter. But that reticence didn’t stop it a great evening. I’ll be back, both to see acoustic bands at Regather and to see the Trembling Bells somewhere where hair can be let down a little more freely.