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(Image: © Will Ireland)

Threshold at Islington 02 Academy – live review

Threshold play Islington with Glynn Morgan back in the fold.

When Threshold took to Facebook in April to announce the departure (for the third time) of frontman Damien Wilson — and the return of Glynn Morgan, who sang on the band’s second album Psychedelicatessen back in 1994 — people responded with the kind of predictable certainty that social media encourages. Depending on your point of view, it was either a decision that would hasten the inevitable demise of a now-doomed band, or a choice that heralded the long-awaited return of a prodigal son after 20 years in the rock wilderness.

Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that just a week earlier, the band had announced a European tour. The result? Thousands of fans suddenly have tickets to see a band fronted by a singer other than the one who may have prompted those purchases.

Cut to next scene: it’s early December, London is blanketed by snow, and it appears that Glynn Morgan no longer has anything to prove. The reaction to the band’s Legends Of The Shires album has been almost universally positive, and as the bucolic sounds of The Shire tinkle from the PA and the musicians arrive onstage to launch into a pounding version of Slipstream, it immediately feels like business as usual.

A Groom With A View: Karl looks out for lags.

A Groom With A View: Karl looks out for lags.
(Image: © Will Ireland)

There’s one problem: Morgan is suffering from a cold, and spends the set either hoarsely reaching for the highest notes or backing away from them altogether. This is unfortunate, and it does take the shine off what’s an otherwise pristine show, but guitarist Karl Groom has a remarkable ability to provide a lift every time there’s a lull or a lag, whether it’s by ferociously finger-tapping or whammy-barring his way through a solo, or — in the case of a lovely version of The Man Who Saw Through Time — by invoking the spirit of David Gilmour with some sweetly melodic, gently uplifting fretwork. Drummer Johanne James is the other standout performer, rock solid yet a whirling dervish of spinning sticks and showmanship.

The band don’t play anything from their four Damien Wilson albums. Instead the set is based largely around Legend Of The Shires, with a trio of tracks from 2007’s Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott- fronted Dead Reckoning and a couple from Psychedelicatessen providing the ballast.

Stars And Satellites is a highlight, with another beautiful solo from Groom and an impromptu crowd singalong. Alongside the closing romps through Lost In Translation and Small Dark Lines, it’s a good indication of where Threshold are at the moment: hugely ambitious, willing to throw everything at a song, but take away the monstrous riffs and the time signature manoeuvres and you’d be left with tunes Bryan Adams would probably be happy to play on an acoustic guitar. These are proper songs.