Americana and alternative country lovers came from far and wide to witness the wonderful musical treat of southern rockers Band of Horses, who were supported by the equally spectacular Israel Nash. The knowledgable crowd clearly knew their stuff and the O2 Academy in Leeds was full up before the first riff was strum. Given that fellow southern rockers Kings of Leon were playing in the Arena, only a stone’s throw away, this was not a mean feat on a Sunday evening.
Performing with the incredibly soulful Eric Swanson on the pedal steel, Israel Nash, quickly won over the Leeds crowd, who were swaying along to every song and reciprocated the wonderful heartfelt songs with cheers and applause. Enchanting with perfect vocal harmonies, Nash and Swanson, captivated the audience with their relaxing and gentle soulful country vibes.
Nash’s raspy vocals coupled with Swanson’s effects-heavy pedal steel guitar playing made for a uniquely distinguishable sound and a magical performance. Ending on Dylan’s I shall be released, Nash and Swanson successfully set the mood for the rest of the evening.
A short break later, Band of Horses were on stage to the delight of the packed O2 Academy. “Hello, we are called Band of Horses! … What are your names?”. It was going to be a fun-filled night of good banter. Over there 13-year history, Band of Horses have gained many loyal fans, who were out in force on Sunday evening.
Kicking off with Infinite Arms, Compliments, and Casual Party, the Seattle quintet did not hang about to raise the energy levels with their unique alternative southern rock. The tremendous amount of enthusiasm was matched by the constant smile on singer Ben Bridwell’s face.
Unlike most bands who will have a specific setlist of songs which they religiously recant night after night, Band of Horses make sure that every night is a different experience for the audience. Sunday in Leeds was no different, with the band drawing on the vast arsenal of excellent alternative country rock songs to create a musical experience unlike any of their tour’s previous shows.
Band of Horses special earthy rock sound took the audience on a rollercoaster ride with a melange from fast and wild alternative rock songs to slow romantic ballads, and everything in between. Country Teen saw the first couples pairing up and dancing along to the music. It’s been a long time since I have seen that at the Academy.
The 2010 Grammy-nominated band was formed in 2004 in Seattle by Ben Bridwell. Despite having undergone several member changes, the current line up of Bridwell (vocals), Ryan Monroe (keyboards), Tyler Ramsey (guitar, vocals), Bill Reynolds (bass), and Creighton Barrett (drum) have been playing in current configuration for nearly 10 years now. This was evident in the clean and magical sound of the band as well as the on-stage banter between band members.
Ending the two-hour show on Is There A Ghost and Writers, before an encore of Dull Times / The Moon, the evening was a musical delight and gave the audience a wonderful experience to cherish for a long time. Both bands were excellent, and we’d highly recommend catching them live on stage if you can.
Complete photo gallery here: GALLERY: BAND OF HORSES + ISRAEL NASH