Palace @ Belgrave, 24/11/16

Since I last saw them in September 2015, Palace have released their first full album, grown their fan-base, and still managed to remain quietly below the mainstream radar. As the bluesy London four-piece took to stage, the headwear of frontman Leo Wyndham struck me immediately. His hat of choice had morphed from the ever-present cap to a black beanie type. Was this a mark of a darker, more mature Palace? Was this the end of the youthful exuberance that had attracted so much buzz in the wake of their Lost in the Light EP? Or was the Belgrave just rather chilly?

Surprisingly, none of these were proven to be true, with Palace having the crowd transfixed from the moment they opened with ‘Head Above the Water’. Furthermore, the Belgrave was in fact rather warm, yet a furiously perspiring Leo admirably refused to remove his beanie.

Although their set featured many of the older, crowd-pleasing songs, each member of the band seemed notably more assured than I had previously seen. ‘So Long Forever’ featured a bold, drawn-out breakdown that a psychedelic guitar solo emerged out of, complementing Wyndham’s trademark haunting vocals. Stage presence was another aspect that had notably developed since their set at Headrow House over a year ago; bassist Will Dorey appeared to feed off the swaying energy of the ever more active crowd, whilst frontman Leo maintained a Dr Feelgood-esque thousand-yard stare at the audience.

Overall, the gig was an almost flawless performance from a band that seemed to be riding a wave of several sell-out shows. Closing with ‘Bitter’, the crowd suddenly burst into life, the sweaty Belgrave trance broken by Leo’s words of gratitude for their attendance.

Palace appear to be a band poised for future mainstream acclaim, and it was a delight to experience their melancholic music in an intimate setting of under two hundred people, before they surely gain a deservedly broader following. 

Dominic Johnson

(Image: NME)

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