Headlining at the Spice of Life’s regular Substance Music event this week in the basement bar was up & coming band Oliver Hoare & The Late Great. Known previously as Freddie & The Hoares (amongst other things), they have built up a solid following over the past few years, and have surely won a new legion of fans after a rollicking hour-long set on Saturday night.
They have a sound that is uniquely their own, blending elements of folk and rock to create “folk & roll” – at times the folk side is more obvious, at others it is almost reminiscent of Summer of Love era psychedelic rock. Think Jimi Hendrix tempered with an accordion and fiddle. But comparison is pretty futile, as there is no one else quite like them out there.
Saturday’s set saw the performance of some of their most recent compositions, including some they were playing live for the first time. Kicking off with You’re Not Alone, they continued with Bread & Circus and Deep Deep Rot – one thing is clear: they certainly know how to create a foot stomper. The energy they managed to generate was quite incredible, constantly feeding off the audience’s enthusiasm to take it to higher and higher levels.
Even when the tempo slowed a little with Love Is, they carried the audience with them all the way, leading to an epic crescendo of Bang On. There was even time for them to be coerced into one more song, aptly seeing us off with Goodbye To You.
It’s not every day you get to see a six-piece that includes an accordion (Gemma Lawrence) as well as a member switching between fiddle and trumpet (Jack Beale). Elly Yates, in combination with Gemma and Jack, helps create some beautiful backing harmonies that add yet another dimension to the performances. The double bass adds some character, particularly under the keen guardianship of Adam Storey – add in Huw Williams’ powerhouse drumming and you have a rhythm section that is most definitely the heartbeat of the band. Oliver himself is a quite unassuming frontman, preferring instead to let the music do the talking; his choice of electric guitars over acoustic allowed for a heavier sound at times, alongside a more subtle approach.
The overwhelming feeling on Saturday night was one of unity – as well as a good dollop of fun for good measure. In these uncertain and worrying times it’s important to have some form of escapism, and an evening like this fits the bill perfectly. Many of these songs are true anthems in the making and I, for one, can’t wait to hear them again. And again. And again. And again.