Tonight at The Soup Kitchen, Admiral Fallow arrive ahead of album number three Tiny Rewards, due to be released at the end of May. The intention of this short, three date tour is to air a set list of new tracks for the first time, allowing the six-piece Glasgow outfit to practice their arrangements, keeping the fans happy by complimenting all of this with a few old favourites as well, all in preparation for a much longer tour planned shortly after the record drops.
The show is a sell out, which is significant and it immediately improves upon my previous Admiral Fallow experience during the Tree Bursts in Snow tour. The band were musically thrilling that night in the Sugarmill, but the audience in Stoke was particularly underwhelming and the atmosphere was certainly lacking. Tonight is a different kettle of fish however and although it can be difficult when your crowd are unfamiliar with new material, there was definitely an eager sense of anticipation enhancing the already intimate surroundings that The Soup Kitchen offers. It is worth noting that another element enhancing the prospect of the show is the quite elaborate lighting set-up that the band have brought with them. Traditionally a dark, foreboding venue at times, it was an absolute joy when the band opened with Salt to see the stage bathed in wonderful colour and this continued throughout the evening, ultimately contributing to a genuinely unique Soup Kitchen experience. It would be nice if more bands would adopt this policy during tours of smaller venues that are perhaps not as blessed on the lighting front as their larger cousins.
This first song establishes the dynamic of the evening pretty quickly. The new material possesses a metronomic quality, but suddenly catches you by surprise as changes of pace are unexpectedly introduced. Evangeline is compelling and captures the imagination; full of the sweeping textures one has come to expect from the band, we are caught up quite hypnotically in the gorgeous harmonies complimenting the vernacular of Louis Abbott on lead vocals. It certainly appears that Sarah Hayes’ contribution is greater on the new material than on earlier albums and this is no bad thing. We’re back on familiar ground with next track Subbuteo from first album Boots Met My Face. Perhaps their most popular song, it prompts a very respectful and subtle contribution from the crowd, who sing along quietly, complimenting Abbott’s evocative, almost cinematic lyrics perfectly. It’s a wonderful moment and one that underlines the affection for the song. The band are obviously aware of the song’s repute and Abbott informs the crowd that it’s possible to purchase the whole band as Subbuteo players from the merch stand at the end of the show. It’s nice to see a bit of originality when it comes to this element of the gigging experience!
The band follow this with further emotional, expressive material from the forthcoming album. Liquor and Milk, Holding the Strings, Carousel and Easy as Breathing all sound extremely positive, but the band’s penchant for visual songwriting means the material is often the kind which grows on you the more you listen. Hopefully, tonight’s airing of this material is just the start of a long relationship with the album. A rousing rendition of Guest of the Government reminds us of the quality of the previous album as we head towards the encore and by now it appears that the band are fully relaxed and beginning to enjoy themselves. Louis Abbott is therefore wise to acknowledge that getting all six band members off and then back onto the incredibly compact, chaotic Soup Kitchen stage for an encore would be more trouble than it is worth. The momentum is maintained then as the more familiar Four Bulbs and Old Balloons complete what ultimately feels like quite a privileged evening. The band are fully committed, intense and hard-working tonight and the new material certainly demonstrates a development in the Admiral Fallow philosophy, whilst still maintaining their delightful textures, instrumentation and harmonies. It’s just a shame then, that we were only treated to eleven songs tonight. Hopefully their return after the album’s release will result in such an enjoyable experience lasting even longer.
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Review and Photos by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto