Pavilions Introduces | Haunt The Woods | Saturday 16 March 2019 | Plymouth Pavilions
ABOVE : Haunt The Woods performing at Plymouth Pavilions on Saturday 16th March 2019
Strength is not always the most obvious of attributes. Think of the thin gossamer thread of a spiders web and you can probably recall the old story of it being stronger than steel. This is not true. Mistaking the fragility of it when taking into account only the scale and size differential between oneself and the arachnids dew laden home, ignores the truth of it's true strength being revealed, only when you take into account it's negligible weight.
This is why spiders silk is the envy of engineers wanting to construct materials that can hold together massive structures whilst not costing the earth (quite literally) in the energy required to create them.
The ability to tread lightly and yet weave a tensile phenomenon between audience and band is also somewhat of a holy grail for some musicians. When a band takes that leap from club to arena it can be intimidating and risk exposing holes in what seemed like such a solid project. Songs, that you once thought were epic anthems in intimate venues can feel flatter than a week old bottle of opened soda.
ABOVE : Jonathan Stafford live at Plymouth Pavilions Introduces
Haunt the Woods needn't have worried before playing the Plymouth's Pavilions Introduces show, one in a series of gigs showcasing local talent on a bigger stage than many would usually play. Anyone familiar with the hirsute Cornish quartet would have suspected that a band with such open , expansive material like theirs would have little trouble filling the space. As important as the songs are, it is the bands ability to translate those numbers live, that can make or break the taught thread that all performers walk in creating tension for spectators.
ABOVE : 'Phoenix Elleschild' playing at Pavilions Introduces in Plymouth March 2019
In Jonathan Stafford, Haunt the Woods have a high wire performer that is willing and able to soar and risk falling from great heights with a voice that undulates over aural terrains the band lay down for him with equal nuance and attention to detail. People have lazily called them a Prog Rock band but there is none of the regressive navel gazing that keeps many bands burdened with such a label tied to a formulaic march through classical arrangements in an effort to avoid the very one dimensional intellectual self congratulatory alley they often blindly march down. There is no fear of emotion or simplicity here, and the band untether themselves by eschewing such heavy armour, willing and enthusiastic as they are to expose themselves in a way that makes them all the more more human and effective for it.
ABOVE : 'Haunt the Woods' play songs from the upcoming L.P in Plymouth
Opening with current release 'Elephant' the tousled troubadours reveal their hand early . A blinding song brilliantly realised in Billy Abbotts video the song is a great way to showcase the new album and the band themselves to a growing audience. Live it more than holds it's own against Peter Miles expertly hewn recording and would not sound out of place in a stadium. Here in the Pavilions arena it is perfect.
' How Long ' reminiscent of The Temper Trap, reaches out a familiar hand to fans after 'news songs 'Amethyst' and 'The Earth is a Rock' and HTW classic 'Architecture' builds on that rapport before 'Red' from the same 2018 'Circle' Ep as 'How Long' strips things back with a much more organic blues based tale.
ABOVE : Haunt The Woods Jonathan Stafford on stage at Pavilions Introduces
After a feisty 'Twisted' and the the title track 'The Line' from the woods 2017 EP, the band try out a batch of new songs punctuated only by 2017's 'Helter Skelter'. By the time they explode into Supernova the crowd are caught in that web and happy to take the roller-coaster tour this bands dynamics offer you. They stick with them and then Stafford approaches the Rhodes and offers up 'Fly' alone with only the ringing of the piano to carry him along .A song with a remarkable and candid tale of redemption framed in deft and telling couplets that brings to mind Thom Yorke in 2006 when he recorded 'The Eraser' LP.
ABOVE : Jack Hale from 'Haunt The Woods' at Plymouth Pavilions Introduces in 2019
The crowd reward such bravery with waves of applause that embrace the band and reaffirm their belief that they are on the right path. The band are touring and have performed with Embrace recently and their mission has travelled well with audiences around the country understanding and feeding back the same warm appreciation and belief as their fans here in the westcountry. They take you on a journey but you have to be open to the experience to enjoy the ride.
ABOVE : Haunt the Woods in Plymouth
They close with' Opaque ' the title track of the upcoming album. I first heard the song in March of last year at the Carnglaze Cavern gig where they released the circle E.P and even then immediately it felt like a classic, a ringing melody and lyric weaved so tightly together they burrowed into your head.
I said of it then on first hearing it
“They end with a new yet untitled song with a killer hook that stayed with me until this morning. When Jonathan Stafford sings “ I just cannot recognise, what it is I see, Staring back at me “, underpinned with a piano line picking out the melody, he imbues the words with equal measures of despair and disdain, his crazed eyes focusing the quiet power of not only the lyrics and the song they so cleverly illustrate, but the whole cohesive yet bombastic reverie of a band engineered for magic backing him up. “
and I stand by every word of it still. It is unforgetable. Go out buy the album - and you will see what I mean.
ABOVE : 'Haunt The Woods' fans at Plymouth Pavilions
The band return for their encore thanking Billy Abbott and then launching into Beautiful Catastrophe, a lesson in mesmerisingly smashing mediocrity with the lightest and most perfectly formed of hammers. Thanks to Elani and Martha (a couple of legends) and then an apt 'Feel' to close the show, laying it all on the line with no fear of falling and a massive Valhalla filling Viking rowers drum pattern to drive the piano led ballad home. Proving there is more than one way to beat the doors down.
BELOW : Haunt The Woods at Plymouth Pavilions. Jonathan Stafford at Rhodes Piano
The band were supported by Exeter's Wildwood Kin and solo act Charlie Louise. Both band and solo artist were excellent and were well received by an enthusiastic audience.
You can check out their material here - Charlie Louise
ABOVE : Charlie Louise live at Plymouth Pavilions Introduces
ABOVE : Pavilions Introduces Charlie Louise
ABOVE : Wildwood Kin 3 piece Devon band live at Pavilions Introduces
ABOVE : Wildwood Kin live in Plymouth
For more details on Wildwood Kin click here - Wildwood Kin
Greenbeanz for Event Photography in Plymouth
Greenbeanz Photography is available to shoot your gig or event you can book here
You can find more photographs from the Plymouth Pavilions Introduces show in galleries here
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