The Hoxton Bar and Kitchen is an odd venue, nestled deep in the nucleus of London’s hipster quarter. Before the show starts, soul music is piped in and, coupled with the light from a revolving disco ball, the place feels like a ’70s school dance. I think this is an attempt at an ironic gesture, but the circling light just makes me feel a bit sick.
A singular man bearing the unusual name of Beans on Toast opens the proceedings. His songs seem like they might come off as slightly cringe-worthy if sung by anyone else, but he manages to make them both charming and funny. Despite promising on several occasions that he won’t talk too much as he only has a short set, he does in fact talk quite a lot, at times even mid-song. But, due to his easy manner, this only serves to further endear himself to the crowd.
Main support for the night comes from Dark Moon. At their best, they sound like PJ Harvey channelling the spirit of The Stooges, with some Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs-esque, New York art-rock thrown in. At their worst, they appear to be attempting some sort of Florence and the Machine deal, but not quite nailing it. The lesser parts make up the minority of their time on stage, though. Plus, the worst aspect of their set is actually some overzealous, whistle-blowing fans… and they can’t really be blamed for that, right?
This is the second of two completely sold-out London shows for Two Gallants, on their first UK tour following a two-year hiatus, and the place is heaving with excited fans. This band are something else live. When someone accidentally spits on you a little while they’re singing and it’s a bit awesome, rather than a bit gross, you know you’re onto a winner. On a related note, I’m not going to be washing my arm for at least a week.
The highlights of the show include some storming renditions of Las Cruces Jail, which gets everybody screaming along, and Nothing to You, a song that contains the blatantly genius lines “But the lost cause of words walks away with my nerves/’Cause I’m gay as a choir boy for you.” They also treat us with a few of their new songs, which are, frankly, stunning and extremely well received to boot. If they’re anything to go on, keep your eyes open for the release of the new Two Gallants album, because I think it’s going to be a good one.