Minor Victories - Village Underground
There was a certain amount of trepidation and intrigue in Shoreditch as the rumours and teasing of the past few months finally comes to fruition. After all, for every The Highwaymen, there’s a Slash’s Snakepit. Having been drip fed morsels; this is the first live show (bar a BBC 6 Music live session) of newly formed indie supergroup Minor Victories. For those not in the know, and this has seemed to sneak up out of ether, Minor Victories comprise of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, Editors’ Justin Lockey, and Justin’s brother James Lockey, of film-makers Hand Held Cine Club. So the logistical nightmare of trying to organise, not just one live show, but a whole tour bringing together members of some very active bands fuels the audience anticipation even further. Such is the anticipation that, unfortunately, support act Zyna Hel‘s performance is met with only polite claps and whoops. A disservice to a beguiling performance of sparse electronica punctuated with soaring and floating vocals on a stage dramatically covered in red light and shadow.
With flickering stage lights, the band take to the stage and launch into opener ‘Give Up The Ghosts’ with a screech of feedback overlaid by Goswell's ethereal and sublime vocal work. All trepidation disappears. As used to fronting bands of boys with guitars making lots of noise as she is, Goswell does comment after second track ‘The Thief’ - packed with hypnotic drones and frenzied guitar work as it is - “It is really weird playing a gig when your album isn’t released and no-one knows your songs” – something that none of the members of Minor Victories will have experienced for quite some time. The remainder of the nine song set drives along in the same relentless and hypnotic vein and come together as a band rather than a group of individuals. The only wobble of the evening comes from lead single ‘A Hundred Ropes’, with Goswell requesting a restart after getting lost during the lo-fi synth opening and shooting the rest of band puzzled glances. They nail it on the second attempt though. And deliver an honest apology: “I fucked up”. Other highlights include the queasy synth work of ‘Cogs’ and ‘Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)’ which sees Twilight Sad’s James Graham join Goswell on vocals, their harmonies dancing around each other beautifully. The evening closes with ‘Out To Sea’ bringing the evening to a crescendo of joy and sound; just leaving the band to file off stage leaving Braithwaite hunched over his guitar, pedals teasing out a wall of feedback. There's much to love, from Justin Lockey’s unbridled enthusiasm and Goswell’s floating, angelic voice, to Stuart Braithwaite’s insistent guitar solos that take his riffs from Hardcore Will Never Die.. and cranks the volume to next level.
With their debut album not released until June, this first gig serves as a perfect advertisement for the band, the hour long set draws on the strongest elements of their previous work but manages to not sound exactly like them; if anything, they're poppier versions of themselves. So, an odd combination, but one that works as a treat for the ears.
1. Give Up The Ghosts
2. The Thief
3. A Hundred Ropes
5. Breaking My Light
7. Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)
8. Higher Hopes
9. Out To Sea