Double-headline gigs tend to divide options. The common criticism I hear is that you get less than a full set’s worth from whichever of the two bands you’d come to see, and with an ill-matched pair of bands there is always the risk that whole thing doesn’t quite come off. But when it does work you can end up with a great evening’s worth of music. The gig at Swindon’s 12 Bar Club saw Also Eden, a band I’d seen at the Cambridge Rock Festival sharing the bill with Leatherat, a band unknown to me, both bands playing 75 minute sets.
Also Eden represents a triumph over adversity. Shortly after joining the band as replacement for their original singer Huw Lloyd-Jones in 2010, frontman Rich Harding was involved in a serious motorbike accident, and there were doubts whether he’d live, let alone be able to sing or walk again. By 2011 he was back on stage while still on crutches, and the band recorded and released “Think of the Children”, his first full-length album with the band.
Also Eden’s sound has many of the trappings of a typical neo-prog band with lengthy multi-part songs and that overdriven chorused lead guitar sound that’s as much a signature of prog as jangle is to 80s indie. But what sets them apart from many of their more derivative competitors is the passion and intensity of the delivery. With Rich Harding having fronted Marillion tribute bands there’s more than a hint of Fish-era Marillion, but I could also hear strong echoes of that band’s contemporaries Twelfth Night. This was very apparent in some of Harding’s politically-charged lyrics from their most recent album, from which the band drew the majority of the set. While perhaps not the most polished performance I’ve seen them do, it was nevertheless a good show. This is a band who I think ought to be destined for bigger and better things in the coming years.
Leatherat turned out to be a very different sort of band. With a mandolin-wielding frontman bearing more than a passing resemblance to Gilmi the Dwarf from “Lord of the Rings”, the five-piece played high energy electric folk rock, with electric violin as the principle lead instrument. Like Also Eden before them, the combination of a charismatic frontman and an intense performance made for a great live band. Although I had to miss the last couple of songs due to having to catch the last train home, what I did see was highly entertaining, and I’d certainly like to catch this band again.
As double-headline gigs go, this was one of the good ones, with the two contrasting but complementary bands that made a great combination. The two bands play together again at The Fleece and Firkin in Bristol on 12th April. Be there!