False Lights. The Exchange, Bristol.

Folk rock band I have wanted to see again, since hearing them at 6 Music Festival last year. Fantastic little venue I discovered this year and have fallen in love with.

False Lights were my gateway drug into folk music. It was seeing them at 6 Music Festival last year that opened the door to a style of music I’d dismissed and I’ve been wanting to see them again ever since. When I was given the opportunity to see them tonight I jumped at it. The Exchange has become one of my favourite venues in Bristol. It’s really friendly, eclectic (they do punk rock yoga), and I’ve not seen a bad gig there. Tonight’s gig was one I’d been really looking forward to.

Support came from Kitty Macfarlane, which I had to find out afterwards as she forgot to introduce herself! She has a beautiful voice and sings traditional folk really well with it. There were songs about beach combing, sirens of the Somerset sea, ones based on poetry, old songs and new songs. She plays the Folk House in December and I’ll be going.

Then False Lights. All 6 of them. I was expecting 2. Excellent, this will be wonderfully noisy I thought. And it was. It was folk. Turned up to 11.

Bass, drums, 2 lead guitars, a melodium and a violinist. Oh and a couple of tracks on keys. Some sort of sound effects board, bells and harmony singing. If they had a kitchen sink to throw at the stage, I’m sure they would have used it. It was folk meets rock to get its groove on. It was fucking awesome.

As this was an album launch gig, they played mostly new material, with a couple of tracks off the excellent Salvor. Frustratingly this new album isn’t yet out, nor will it be for a few months, so I cannot share with you the amazing music they played from it tonight. You will just have to trust me that it is ace and buy it when it comes out.

Whatever you think you know about folk music, just chuck it out the window and listen to False Lights. If you like folk, this is heavy, rocky folk. If you don’t ignore the label and listen. It’s just indie rock guitar music with added violin for the doubters ok? They rework old songs, maintaining the tradition whilst adding layers to make fresh new sounds and have them literally sing again. When I saw them last year I got the connection between folk and rock, via them and Richard Hawley. Tonight I felt the link between folk and indie, 60’s soul and hard rock. Sometimes in the same song. These guys are special. The opening drum part of one track was pure 60’s girl group, Be My Baby came to mind! Sam plays a mean guitar, mean. And to see him rock out and be so into his playing was just pure joy. The best moments were watching the band let rip and the way they bounced off each other. It was infectious and I couldn’t help but smile and dance. Getting your groove on isn’t something you would usually associate with a folk gig (unless you can do a quadrille…….) but this was rock and I can’t stand still when drums and bass involved. I was off, dancing rapidly replaced foot tapping. I had no chance of standing still really. The old bones are already creaking and I know I’ll be stiff as a board tomorrow morning but I honestly can’t help it. Music moves me; emotionally and physically.

I can express to you how much I loved this gig and how happy it made me simply. At the end of it, when I was talking to Jim and Sam I forgot words and how to put a sentence together, the music had taken me to a place where words didn’t matter anymore. To render me speechless and inarticulate is pretty difficult, so it shows you how utterly fabulous this gig was that I struggled to make coherent sense at the end of it!

Thank you Ant, Kitty, Sam, Jim and the rest of the band. I had a ball tonight. Seeing music live makes me feel more alive than anything. More vital. More connected. Ultimately more human. Tonight you made me feel brave and that is such a wonderful gift.

35 down, 5 to go.




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