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Live Music Review: Eyre Llew at Nottingham Contemporary

27 August 18 words: Matthew Williams
photos: Stephanie Webb

We got down to Nottingham Contemporary to say farewell to local lads Eyre Llew, who’re embarking on a tour around Asia...

Local ambient-rock trio Eyre Llew formed in 2014, and have been wowing audiences with their stunning live shows ever since. After releasing nine singles in the first two years of their existence, the band finally recorded, produced and self-released their critically acclaimed album Atelo in October 2017.

The album release received a hometown celebration show at the 550-capacity Glee Club Nottingham, which quickly sold out. Since then, the band has only gained more momentum and an ever-increasing number of devoted fans with Atelo reaching #24 in Drowned in Sound’s Top 100 albums of 2017, as well as being nominated for Best Rock Act, Best Record and Best Music Video at the Unsigned Music Awards at The Great Escape Festival. They’ve also been described as “Arguably one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now" from internationally respected music outlets, as well as already being featured on BBC Radio 1, BBC Introducing, Kerrang! Radio and XFM multiple times since 2015.

With this momentum, the band are now set to embark on a huge tour of Asia. However, before they left, they came back to their old stomping ground to celebrate their success and 140th show together at Nottingham Contemporary. The venue seemed perfect for their brand of ambient-rock. They had the hometown crowd, the intimate setting and the artsy stage to complement their stunning live show.

The band did not come alone either as they were supported by the great local talents of Laurie Illingworth and Daudi Matsiko. Illingworth nicely warmed up the crowd as they gradually poured into the venue, showing off his soulful vocals and melancholy piano chops. Towards the end of his set, all three members of Eyre Llew accompanied him and the set came to an excellent crescendo, with both Illingworth and the band’s styles gelling very well. He also promised new material coming soon; one to look out for in the near future.

Matsiko’s performance was also wonderful. He created an intimate setting with just himself and some guitars on the stage, sharing stories of busking and joking with the crowd to kill time as he tuned his guitar. His fragile voice and folkish, mellow busker vibe went down well with the audience, who sang along to the final lines of his last song.

Jack Clark on the drums

When Eyre Llew finally came on stage, they received the hero’s welcome they rightfully deserve. After the crowd’s silence through the first two intimate acts, singer and guitarist Sam Heaton assured the crowd that they could make noise now.

While most rock is based around creating grooves through a combination of rhythm and melodies, the band have stripped back this formula to mostly just melody, as seen by them having no bass player or kick drum. With this, the band are able to create a lot of atmosphere, experimenting with pedals, effects and techniques with different types of drum sticks and by using a violin bow on a guitar to create a layered soundscape that climaxes from note to note, adding layer upon layer of sound until it drops into an outburst of energy, only to then decelerate in the same way.

The music isn’t particularly catchy or danceable, but that isn’t the intention. The soundscape they create is more of an experience to sit back in and let flow through you. Even the vocals aren’t focussed on lyrics, and use the voice as yet another layer of sound more so than to have the audience singing along with.

The band also announced they’d be recording more new material soon, while on their tour of Asia. With this level of momentum from all three artists, I see big things coming soon.

Eyre Llew played Nottingham Contemporary on Saturday 25 August 2018

Eyre Llew on Bandcamp 

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