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The Harley, Sheffield, 28 February 2011

Vessels are a band that take the meaning of experimental to a whole new level and even Radiohead begin to look pretty damn average when they've got these guys casting a shadow over them.

The Leeds-based five-piece began their extensive European tour on the 20th of February and I was lucky enough to get tickets to 8th date of this tour at The Harley in the steel-city of Sheffield. Stuart Warwick and Emphemetry joined in on the ride for this particular gig.

Emphemetry kicked off the gig with their soothing, ambient music that almost seemed a little TOO tranquil for my liking. It was the perfect soundtrack for lazing about in the huge squishy sofas kindly provided by the venue, but nothing more.

Stuart Warwick then took over and introduced stunning vocals to the stage. I don't know if it was just the large quantities of alcohol or actually the power of the music but everyone stared into space looking like they'd been thoroughly brainwashed and were totally and utterly under the spell of Mr Warwick himself. Then again, it was that kind of music that makes you think, "Oooooh, pretty!"

Vessels finally entered stage getting into the mix of things with track two of their new album; The Trap. The Trap seems to mix everything that the Vessels are well-known for into one single composition; the dreamy setting, electronic vibes and inconsistent paces. It was almost like a huge trailer for the entire show blending little snippets of what was to come next.

Next up was Recur, a track which (unusually for Vessels) focussed on the captivating vocal work and combined efforts of Lee Malcolm and Tom Evans. This provided an interesting contrast to the rest of instrumental gods' music and broke up the setlist bringing more variety.

The guys continued to put 110% into their performance consisting of tracks from new album, Helioscope and also melodies such as the catchy rhythms of An Idle Brain and the Devil's Workshop until the crowd was finally fortunate enough to hear the opening tinkle to Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute; a beautifully crafted masterpiece in which supporting act, Stuart Warwick, lends his vocals. This is even more lulling when heard in person and it sends you off into a dream world full of candy floss clouds and apple flavoured grass as you feel like you've drifted off into a childhood dream.

The set ended on a large fuzz of distortion as All Our Ends marked the conclusion to an utterly moving night out.

So maybe it's not exactly what you'd expect from a typical gig. There is definitely something lacking as even though the band give it their all, it still has a chilled out feel to it rather than something you'd go to see at a live concert.

Perfect for when you're having a bit of "me time" in your bedroom but not something I'd choose to listen to at a gig as the atmosphere just isn't there. Don't get me wrong, the crowd seemed totally satisfied with the performance but it was still not something you could totally let loose to and get fully into the rhythm.

Purely because their music is so calming and breathtaking, they get a pretty stable three out of five but they need to do something to add to the atmosphere if they want to put on a truly outstanding performance.


Review by Abigail Suter


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