Under a full moon the strong, haunting voice of London Grammar vocalist, Hannah Reid, resonated perfectly round the open-air Riverstage in Brisbane last Saturday evening.
It was the ideal venue for London Grammar in Brisbane, and the band, who were playing their first gig after cancelling a concert in the city last year, were evidently delighted to finally be there.
So too were the 8000+ crowd, who gave a remarkably spectacular reception to a young band who have but one album under their belt.
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Set within the city’s Botanic Gardens, Brisbane’s Riverstage is bordered by landscaped lawns on one side and the flowing river on the other.
Walking through the serene gardens at dusk to reach to the venue was quite unlike the way I usually arrive at gigs.
Normally on the gritty London underground, the excitement of travelling to a concert is raw, urban, fast-paced, but here it felt casual, relaxed, even calm.
This totally changed, however, when we reached the Riverstage and were greeted by the huge crowd who had already assembled to see London Grammar.
Now the excitement in the air was palpable.
Indeed, the tension only grew and grew until finally, entering the stage and starting to play one by one, Dot Major and Dan Rothman, built up the introduction to London Grammar’s first song.
After what seemed like ages, singer Reid eventually entered the fold to whoops and cheers from the crowd, and led us in with a few melodic sounds before breaking into the recognisable lyrics of Hey Now.
It was a great energetic opening which, set against some stylish CG visuals, really sparked the memorising tone of the whole evening.
It not not until a few songs in that the audience finally got to hear from the beloved musicians on stage.
Characteristically unpretentious and down-to-earth, initially the band were a bit like nervous, excited school kids standing up to talk in front of the class.
They soon seemed to relax however, taking it in turns to introduce the upcoming song, and we were given a real sense of the accomplished artists they are.
It was a warm, cloudless evening and sitting on the grass of the natural amphitheatre, the muffled sounds and lights of the city across the water imparted a sense of us being in a peaceful cocoon, safe within the noise and hustle of the metropolis.
Brilliantly complimenting this sense of calm amidst the storm, the ambient-electronic sounds of the British trio echoed round the venue as if they had been designed for it.
And so we were treated to some beautifully composed renditions of their album hits. Sights, Shyer and Waiting my Young Years were particular favourites, accompanied by some great lighting design and the beautiful notes of the four, female string players sat on a level above the band.
Reid’s voice rang out strong and sensitive, forceful and ethereal all at the same time.
We also heard Flickers, allegedly the first track they composed together in a university bedroom and Nightcall the wonderful cover, which we learnt they were reluctant to include on their album until they realised just how well it was working.
Split largely between those standing down in front of the stage and those sitting on the grass banks of the venue, the crowd seemed to know every word of each song.
With only one album released to date, If You Wait (2013), it is perhaps unusual that London Grammar seem to have such a cult following
. Yet, with their beautifully constructed mix of classical and techno sounds, it’s also easy to see why they have become such household name across the globe.
Indeed, the atmosphere across the Riverstage was one of pure delight.
The only problem with a one-album band is the length of the show, inevitably restrained by the lack of material.
And so it was, the 1 hour set passed all to quickly and soon we were rounding up their best-selling hit Strong, being heralded as their final track.
It was a hearty performance, through which Reid gave the crowd their chance to join in.
Disappointment met the band’s departure from the stage, but that quickly turned into shouts for an encore.
Much to their dislike, as they informed us (they feel like they are lying when they leave the stage for the first time!), the trio gave the encore the crowd wanted.
A solo If You Wait came first, before the bass of Metal and Dust reverberated round the ground.
It was the perfect finish, leaving everyone eager for more.
There is no doubt that both London Grammar’s second album as well as their return to these shores will be hotly anticipated.