Bare­ly over jet lag from SXSW, The Orielles are tour­ing the UK and on Wednes­day they played their Lon­don appear­ance at Elec­tric Brix­ton. The band’s 2022 dou­ble album Tableau had me hooked from first lis­ten and I was inter­est­ed to hear those songs live. Mak­ing a sub­stan­tial shift from their for­mer sun­ny, garagey sound, Tableau sees the band head into exper­i­men­tal waters. Unhur­ried and dream­like, the album takes you down into a med­i­ta­tive and lim­i­nal space. 

I remem­ber see­ing The Orielles at The Trades for Inde­pen­dent Venue Week in 2022 (review link) and it was evi­dent that some­thing was chang­ing. There was a more heav­i­ly tex­tur­al qual­i­ty to the instru­men­ta­tion. And they took their time with each song, coax­ing out some­thing dif­fer­ent. Tableau is the result of that shift in direc­tion with its empha­sis on exper­i­men­ta­tion, an expan­sive land­scape of sound and genre. 

Despite the marked dif­fer­ence of Tableau, the set flowed along with all the mate­r­i­al inte­grat­ing into a seam­less whole. Dis­co Volador’s Mem­o­ries of Miso opened the set, spread­ing its com­fort­ing­ly sun­ny vibes over the crowd before the new mate­r­i­al kicked in. The third track, Beam/s, pos­i­tive­ly scin­til­lat­ed, with Esme’s vocals sound­ing on top form. And the live expe­ri­ence added a new ele­ment to the mate­r­i­al, even on those tracks like Air­tight with their lay­ered, del­i­cate echoey sound.

On stage vocal­ist and bass play­er Esmé Hand-Hal­ford, and Hen­ry Car­lyle-Wade on gui­tar, share the lime­light. Esmé remains a cool and con­tained pres­ence while Hen­ry ban­ters with the crowd and acts as a foil to the still­ness of the oth­er band mem­bers, alter­na­tive­ly crouched over his gui­tar or swirling around in a pair of bag­gy trousers. Drum­mer Sidonie Hand-Hal­ford is a more shad­owy fig­ure hang­ing back from the spot­lights but no less impor­tant, her pre­cise drum­ming anchors the mate­r­i­al. Slight­ly mar­ring it all was the over­ly fog­gy lighting.

Almost at the end of the set, we’re brought back out of the rever­ie with Dis­co Volador and Space Samba which get whoops of recog­ni­tion from the crowd. The final track is the gor­geous The Instru­ment from Tableau with its insis­tent funky ‘ear­worm’ riff. This was a thor­ough­ly enjoy­able gig well received by the crowd, and the new mate­r­i­al works well played live. It will be inter­est­ing to see where The Orielles go next.

The Orielles. Elec­tric Brix­ton 04 April 2023.
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