The Besnard Lakes closed the UK leg of their tour with a triumphant, beautiful and emotional performance at The Assembly Hall, Islington.

The space was per­fect for The Besnard Lakes. It’s a medi­um-sized venue with a grand feel, and that Besnard sound swirled around and filled the space, the mir­ror­ball on the ceil­ing look­ing like an escapee from their last album cov­er, with the smoke machine on overtime.

Apart from some drum prob­lems which caused the band to stop play­ing after the first num­ber (and cause a few laughs), this gig was one of those moments when every­thing seemed to crys­tallise into per­fec­tion. Once they got into their stride, The Besnard Lakes were off and run­ning, meld­ing one sub­lime track into another.

They opened with Like the Ocean from The Besnard Lakes are the Roar­ing Night, a joy­ous, soar­ing pro­duc­tion which fol­lows a famil­iar prog course. The song struc­ture begins in a rel­a­tive­ly con­ven­tion­al man­ner, then some­where around the mid­way point it heads into wilder ter­ri­to­ry… a churn­ing mael­strom of ecsta­t­ic beau­ty with a mash of gui­tars and synths, lead­ing you deep­er into the heart of the song.

Besnard Lakes

This was fol­lowed by the lush, euphor­ic Gold­en Lion, the sin­gle from their lat­est album A Col­i­se­um Com­plex Muse­um. The band were then joined on stage by three singers and lat­er by the string sec­tion – at one point they were 13-strong on the stage. Sheenah Koh remained a hazy fig­ure on key­boards at the rear of the stage.

Impec­ca­ble pro­duc­tion, dense lay­ers and soar­ing notes are the hall­marks of this psych rock prog out­fit. It is not always easy tak­ing mate­r­i­al which relies so heav­i­ly on stu­dio pro­duc­tion and trans­fer it to live per­for­mance in such a way to appear fresh and engaged, and yet The Besnard Lakes man­age it. This is in part down to the fig­ure­heads and dri­ving force of the band, hus­band and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Gore­as. Jace and Olga engage with the crowd in a humor­ous and relaxed way, tem­per­ing the slight­ly grandiose pom­pos­i­ty of the material.


The one and a half hour set (it could have gone on all night if I had my way) includ­ed Normi­con, Chica­go Train, Alba­tross and a haunt­ing ver­sion of  And you lied to me.

After a three-song encore it’s all over, and a rush to the merch stall (with lust­wor­thy A Col­i­se­um Com­plex Muse­um in white vinyl) con­firms it’s a job well done for The Besnard Lakes.

The Besnard Lakes have now head­ed off to main­land Europe but will be back in the UK for Green Man Fes­ti­val.

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