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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