Diagrams are on their first tour, and after 3 nights in Germany they have come back to more familiar ground, playing at the Hoxton Bar and Grill in London. They should be described perhaps less as a band and more as a musical collective; fusing heady bass, brass, strings and experimental synth in all manner of ways to produce an original and fresh sound. Their great enthusiasm for their art beams from each of their faces as they play, making the experience all the more pleasant and interesting to watch.
In support was Yeti Lane, a male two piece creating some pretty nondescript tunes with a guitar, drum kit and synthesizer. I like to think that I’m very eclectic musically (don’t we all?) and I always keep an open mind when it comes to new bands or genres I’m introduced to. But when I go to see live music I want it to feel like an event, an ephemeral experience that I am sharing with the crowd and ultimately the musicians on stage. With good performances this can apply in the largest of epic festivals as well as the cosiest of intimate venues. But when the band don’t acknowledge their audience and don’t welcome them into the experience it can start to feel like you’re just watching a film. Such was the case with Yeti Lane- only this wasn’t even a film that kept my attention- as they weren’t doing anything particularly interesting on the stage it dropped down a notch on the entertainment scale to mere background music. Especially as the crowd was awash with blank faces and the occasional slightly nodding head. Technically tight and musically talented they may be, and I won’t deny their music was charming and at times transportive- but give me a reason to pay attention!
The opposite was true of Diagrams, they were mesmerizing to watch and really invited the audience to share the experience with them through their evident enthusiasm for what they were doing. This was a bunch of guys that truly love their music- that relish in every song and delight in the opportunity to share it with a crowd.
The front man; Sam Genders and the wonderfully enigmatic synth player have two voices that sound like they were destined to collide together in harmony adding another-wordly, but beautiful depth to the music that is all the more present in a live show. The highlight of the evening was watching the various tricks of the trade they put into practice to make the brilliant song Antelope come to life on stage- it was like being witness to magician revealing his secrets and was a new experience for this reviewer.
My one complaint is that I’d have like to have seen and heard more of the brass section, who were tucked away into a corner of the stage and treated almost like a mere accompaniment to the central 5 piece. Granted, little could perhaps be done about a bad sound job which managed to almost entirely drown out the use of 3 brass instruments, but I still feel that these musicians should and could have been better utilised within the show.
Diagrams are spending the rest of March up and down the UK before jetting back to Europe and will perform again in London on the 25th May. To anybody that enjoys the performance in live music and is willing to have their mind and ears opened to something a bit different, I urge you to check them out.