and so I watch you from afar: live review

And So I Watch You From Afar remain one of the best live bands in the world.

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Indiana’s Henry Kohen – also known by his stage name of Mylets – has managed to divide opinion in alt guitar circles since he first appeared on the scene.

On the one hand, he’s a technically virtuosic guitar player, adept at the use of loops, and possessed of an ear for melody born of his love for Peter Gabriel; on the other, his busy compositions have a ‘kitchen-sink’ approach, with him using layers upon layers of guitars. Tonight, subtlety can wait for the young man, as he frantically smashes through tracks from his upcoming debut LP Arizona. The title track, industrial single Trembling Hands and Retcon are the highlights, with Henry quite literally dancing across his pedal board as his hands whip between wild guitar solos and playing the drum machine.

Having arrived late at the venue, And So I Watch You From Afar are initially somewhat flustered; doors were late, and it doesn’t appear as if the Belfast quartet had much time to soundcheck. Nevertheless, they crash straight into the start of their new album Heirs, careering through Run Home and Wasps with reckless abandon. Somewhat lacklustre on record, the tracks make a lot more sense live, with gang vocals complementing the frenetic guitars.

A trip into back catalogue is what really gets the crowd warmed up though, as the band play a run of songs from their 2011 opus Gangs, undoubtedly one of the finest instrumental guitar albums ever committed to tape. BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION is a clarion call, with the shredding opening riff and swaggering breakdown section of Gang that follows whipping the crowd into a frenzy, and S Is For Salamander from the Letters EP is ecstatically received by the older fans present.

Tryer, You is an unexpected highlight; one of the more soundscape-heavy tracks on the new LP, it evokes well the cover image of an astronaut in deep space and live proves cavernous and all-enveloping. After that, the band down instruments, only to return for an encore of Eunoia and Big Thinks Do Remarkable from 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures, followed by the track that made their name – Set Guitars To Kill, from their debut. The crowd explode, and there’s crowd surfing, stage diving and the obligatory co-ordinated shout of ‘woo!’ from all present.

Fundamentally, there’s one clear message from tonight; that despite the changes in their sound, And So I Watch You From Afar remain one of the best live bands in the world.