The Head and the Heart [Live]


It must have been the beers my friends and I enjoyed on the steep steps which sloped up to the quaint church-turned-venue in the deep heart of Camden that drew me to the two conveniently placed porta–potties just to the side of the St. Pancras Old Church. In front of me in the queue was a man with blonde hair, a broad smile and a seemingly cheery disposition. It was he who instigated conversation and introduced me to the man standing directly behind me. Their accents had already tipped my suspicion, but when they introduced themselves as Tyler and Chris, it became clear that I was talking to both the drummer and bassist from Seattle’s very own The Head and the Heart. The duo struck me as exactly what you would expect from the members of a band so infused with smiling optimism and hopeful sentimentality.

The 2013 tour for their new album Let’s Be Still brought the band to just three European cities, of which only one was in the UK. The fact that the majority of the people bumbling around outside one of the most intimate venues I’ve seen were begging for tickets from anyone who crossed their path confirms that The Head and the Heart receive not only respect and passion from their fans, but also a true sense of love and dedication. I believe the simple fact that during their entire show a smile didn’t leave my face in testament this.

Their set was a healthy blend of both their debut and recently released album. When the two were being played in tandem, a sincere sense of coordination was present with the band. By this I do not simply mean that their stage presence and live performance skills were ‘up to scratch’, despite the fact that both these elements were unswervingly stellar. Rather I mean to highlight the one word I believe describes this band’s progression into another album, tour and indeed stage of their career - consistent.

The songs they played from Let’s Be Still engaged me in much the same way that their first eponymously titled album did. They centre around themes like love, family and coming of age; themes which are universally engaging. When this is coupled with the bands three perfectly attuned vocalists, each of whom delivers a different singing style, and eclectic range of instruments, the produce is an undeniably incendiary performance.

Every member of the band would chime in with quips and gags during the pauses between songs, and they weren’t always aimed at the audience. The chemistry between the six musicians was unquestionably vibrant and evident in every aspect of their performance. Their comradery and enthusiasm shone in such a way that the audience could engage with the show full heartedly.

Each song played from the new album contained an infatuating novelty, but it was those o’ so familiar songs from the first released which captured me the most. Despite their impeccable recital of Lost in my Mind and farewell with Down in the Valley, the highlight of the show was undoubtedly their magnificent execution of Rivers and Roads. If I learnt one thing from that show, it’s that no record can do the voice of Charity Rose Thielen justice. When that song reached its climax, folk bordered on gospel and I don’t think I could say that with a more positive force. Her vocal dynamism drew applause and praise from the entire crowd, and band. As the penultimate song, followed immediately by Down in the Valley, we were left with a charge that lasted the rest of the evening.

The Head and the Heart surpassed all my (very high) expectations with their performance at the St. Pancras Old Church, and supported all my beliefs that their new album would be sterling enough to rival the first. I hope dearly to see them again sometime soon, but I struggle to see them topping this performance to an audience of a mere 90 people.

By Christian Field

'Shake' By The Head and the Heart.