Listener are so hard to describe. “Post-rock bluegrass” is probably the closest I’ve heard anyone get. Although “like a tramp ranting” isn’t that far off either. What they call ‘talk music” is one man shouting poetry over a variety of sounds, all of which connect and make sense somehow. It’s a man delivering his lines so forcefully that half the time his mouth is nowhere near the microphone; lines that, like that delivery, are so honest, and sincere, and full of genuine emotion it’s impossible not to be moved.
Yesterday at The Star Of Kings in Kings Cross, Listener were late. So late that when the support band, Grass House, went on, no one at the venue had seen them yet. But when they arrived 25 minutes before stage time, they unloaded, set up and were ready to go almost before anyone had noticed. Partly because they’d distracted the audience with entertaining conversation as they went. With equipment set up and the duo’s dinner balanced on a flight case at the side of the stage, guitarist Chris Nelson engaged everyone with a lengthy joke while vocalist Dan Smith went to the (ladies) toilet and returned to announce that everyone needed to sit down so that people at the back could see. Everyone sat down.
Then the two men played one of the most honest, sincere, passionate and genuinely brilliant shows I’ve seen this year. If not any year. They played for over an hour and I would have happily watched for longer. It was the kind of gig you rarely see but always want, where you really feel like the musicians are performing for now, and not for their future. They just wanted it to be good now, and if it is then that’s good enough.
Listener’s latest album, ‘Wooden Heart’, was released through Tangled Talk in July. You can hear that, along with numerous other releases, on Bandcamp, and check out the video for ‘Falling In Love With Glaciers’ here: