I deliberately held off listening to A Flat and Paper Sky Vol.2 when I knew I’d be hearing it live. After hearing Vol. 1 for the first time through the headphones plugged into my laptop I decided to introduce myself to its companion piece in the live arena and see how the two experiences compared. Would the sense of discovery create a new excitement or would the lack of familiarity impede my enjoyment?
Let me begin by saying that I’m glad it was Volume 2 I conducted this experiment with. More primal than Volume One, it’s less of a tale about emotion and more of a raw expression of it. You felt in the first EP that someone was regaling you with a story of a time long ago, in a place far away. In the second you feel like a participant in it.
Louder, more electric, the piano makes way for the guitar as the driving force of the band as the singer snarls the angry lyrics of a man sick of wondering aimlessly and finding nothing. In Bright Blue Eyes the guitar cracks like thunder, announcing its promotion with a sudden, abrupt force. In Foolish Man it howls in despair, giving it an extra dimension. The live stage furthers its development, amplifying it with divine purpose, like a choir member through whom God speaks.
On stage the music is played with a greater sense of urgency. A step faster and naturally louder it brings out the passion and aggression; it wakes a beast within the band, one that vinyl can only stir. The singer still manages to sound like he’s speaking directly to the subject of the song, like it wouldn’t even matter if the room were empty.
Almost arrogantly they attempt things established artists still struggle with and amazingly they do everything they set out to. The layers and depth of sound they can achieve are more like the work of veterans than up and comers and the sense of evocation that made Vol 1 such a joy to listen to endures the transfer to stage. When you listen to the band through headphones or speakers it’s like settling down to a beguiling book, but the live version is to hear the master storyteller first hand at his rightful place by the fire.