Belgrave Music Hall
For soft, indie-acoustic numbers, there is a dangerously fine line between a truly captivating performance and a truly dreary one. Fortunately, last week’s performance at Belgrave by Paper Aeroplanes adhered almost entirely to the former. Since 2009, the Welsh duo have been writing together about everything from personal loss to that fit guy down the coffee shop; the resultant form is an infectiously light brand of folk-pop, balanced with a satisfying sense of melancholic depth. This sentiment was perfectly delivered by Sarah Howells and Rich Llewellyn, whose conversational and self-conscious yet sweet-natured stage presence seemed to wholly personify their sound.
The reflective and earnest ‘Same Mistakes’ provides a delicate introduction to the set. As Howells softly begs lovers to “save the sweet simplicity”, the band softly melt into the foreground around her. Between them, the pair create entrancing and heart-melting vocal harmonies, that on tracks like ‘Fable’ and ‘Winter Never Comes’ could easily be mistaken for Fleetwood Mac. Meanwhile, the rhythm section skilfully underpins the jaunty feel of ‘We Are Ghosts’, and build to awesome textural climaxes on numbers like ‘Little Letters’.
Following a harrowing encore of ‘Multiple Love’, Howells chirpily cries “from one song about love to another!” as the band segues into ‘My First Love’. This penultimate number embodies everything fans admire about their music more generally: it is innovative, unpretentious and enjoyable. And, thankfully, their work will continue to be a source of joy long after a home-made paper aeroplane ceases to be.