This year Shearwater released Rook, their fifth full length album and their most accomplished to date. Continuing with their delicately orchestrated indie-folk sound, the album stretches the band to their maximum potential and gives fans an extremely rewarding listen.
A church was the perfect setting for Shearwater to showcase songs from the album and their previous effort, entitled Palo Santo. The crowd was seated in the pews throughout the show, watching and listening attentively to this sermon of sorts. The setting was simple, a small stage with no background save for the high arched ceiling and grand 18th century architecture. There were not even any colored lights to give the feeling of a “normal” rock concert. The surroundings were already attuned to the atmosphere of Shearwater’s music and throughout the night they blended together beautifully.
Starting off the night on a quiet note with Rook opener ‘On The Death of the Waters’, singer Jonathan Meiburg was set away from the rest of the band, sitting below the stage at the grand piano which is practically within the crowd. The song started off with Meiburg playing and singing in a perfect falsetto. With the eyes of the audience all focused on him, not just during this song but throughout the night, he was the center of attention. The band made their presence known midway through the song with a short, sharp powerful burst of energy before fading again as attention returned once more to Meiburg at the piano.
The night then got a real kick off with ‘Red Sea, Black Sea’ during which Meiburg took up his rightful place at center stage wielding a banjo to lead the band. The night continued in the same fashion with the band switching effortlessly from louder thumping tracks to softer songs. ‘White Waves’ saw the band rock out as much as possible in the minimal space afforded, whilst ‘I Was A Cloud’ was a picture of tranquility.
During his spare time, Meiburg was a keen ornithologist, which seemed hard to imagine as he stood tall at center stage towering over the audience like a sentinel playing guitar amidst a torrent of sculptured sounds. His distinctive voice was flexible from the deafening howl to the delicate croon and it never failed him as he used it to take Shearwater’s performance to another level entirely.
Meiburg was undoubtedly the star of the show but the band was key to the success of the performance. Each member are multi-instrumentalist which make the flexibility of the band astounding; each member changed instrument several times during the night, often midway through a song. Drummer Thor Harris was hidden behind speaker stacks and fellow band members for the majority of the show but certainly made his presence known. However he was maybe most impressive when he came out on to the main stage to play hammered dulcimer during the powerful ‘Leviathan, Bound’.
That night, the combined talent of the band members along with the surroundings took the crowd on a journey. Like the songs which seem to float on the wind like a bird, our minds were transported to a place of peace and beauty far away from the busy streets of central London. It’s a journey which won’t soon be forgotten and which one day all will hope to take again.