Live Review: Pierce Brothers – Electric Ballroom, London

The Electric Ballroom was the venue for the final European date for Australia’s Pierce Brothers, before they headed back home. As the audience began to arrive, what was most noticeable was the diverse age range which spoke not only to their successful support slots with the likes of Tash Sultana, but also their well received festival performances, including Cropredy Festival and this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival, where the identical twin brothers from Melbourne closed out Friday night’s Stage 2 to great reception.

Opening the show was Soham De, from Norfolk, who when he first arrived seemed quiet, however the reaction from the audience to the powerful voice that emerged was enough to gather those already in attendance, but hugging the bar, nearer to the stage to get a better look. De revelled in the positive reactions and soon looked very at ease in front of the growing audience and genuinely delighted when he left the stage to thunderous applause.

Pierce Brothers arrived on stage to an eager crowd and jumped straight into fan favourite Amsterdam, from their previous release and EP, My Tired Mind. Setting the tone for the rest of the evening, the audience immediately started singing along as we heard of the potential pitfalls of frequent touring, encapsulated by the brilliant line “I just want to pull over on this road to mediocrity.”

Older songs such as Blind Boys Run, It’s My Fault, and Genevieve still form the backbone of their live set and as such, received uproarious cheers as the majority of the audience were longtime fans, singing along with every word. And that is what the evening felt like. A singalong with friends. Of course, it’s 800 friends singing along, but the atmosphere was such that everyone felt at home.

Treating the audience to songs from all of their previous EPs, there was also a preview of their eagerly-awaited debut album, Atlas Shoulders, in the form of Trip Lovers and Juno. Both songs were well received, with the harmonies on Juno being especially enchanting, showing off the brothers’ natural harmonic abilities.

Finishing out the set, we had Brother, written for their eldest sibling, and a song which has featured as a live track on The Records Were Ours EP, but never having been recorded due to the level of audience participation. As the brothers exited the stage, the audience started up the singalong section again, in order to request an encore, and were delighted when the brothers returned for a reprise of the song before launching into an encore including Self Portrait, an instrumental inspired by John Butler’s Ocean, and one in which Patrick Pierce was able to show off his fabulous acoustic guitar work, as Jack Pierce looked on proudly at his brother whilst switching between drumming on railings, playing didgeridoo, djembe, and joining his brother on the single guitar for a flurry of hands. Flying Home brought the evening to a close as Pierce Brothers thanked their touring crew, and asked a final favour of their audience, to crouch down towards the end of the song as it reached its peak, and then jump.

Whilst this has been a long tour for Pierce Brothers (especially given the support tour for Tash Sultana which they completed before heading straight into their own headline tour of 11 shows in 13 days) it is a testament to how much their performance confidence and stamina have both grown, that they seem tighter as a unit than I have ever seen them, a surprising quality considering how close they are, as befits twin brothers. The wide smiles on the faces of the audience as they wandered out into the Camden night definitely spoke of a rollicking evening in good company. Pierce Brothers, always a excellent live act, once again knocked out a fantastic London show.

Words & Images by Ulrike Gotts