The Tin Pigeons at The Lending Room: Excellent Performers, Dated Sound, 13.11.18

The Lending Room’s size lent an atmosphere of intimacy to The Tin Pigeons’ Leeds gig, as the fans huddled into the room to escape the cold winds outside. An early start to the night saw three support bands take to the stage, though admittedly they were odd choices.

Sonically, their indie rock leanings clashed noticeably with Tin Pigeons’ more cheery neo-folk. Chunks of each band’s fans left after their sets as well, with the lack of musical overlap likely a big factor. While the first two to go up, Raintree County and Clouded Lights, were good enough, they lacked a certain something to set them apart from the rest.

Ten Hands High’s Joe Boulton (left) and Alexi Buckingham (right)

Ten Hands High, however, did. A pleasant surprise for those who didn’t already know them, they had that special something – that je ne sais qois. From the moment they walked on stage and (wordlessly) started playing an opening intro, the audience were magnetised. Where there was empty space in front of the stage for the previous two, there wasn’t here; charismatic lead singer Alexi Buckingham rocked the stage, interacting with the audience, something Raintree County and Clouded Lights didn’t do. A quiet, emotional song written by guitarist Joe Boulton also showed off the band’s songwriting. With some time to develop, each member’s distinct personality, solid showmanship and the band’s indie rock (with a light touch of garage rock) sound make them ones to watch.

Lead singer Fraser’s wide-smiling stage presence and contagious happiness was hard not to like, as he and bassist Tom clearly enjoy their work.

But onto the main event: The Tin Pigeons. After getting over the shock of the sudden genre change, it was really easy to enjoy the band’s set. The band’s bubbly music lit up the stage, opening with ‘Wild’, a bouncy, danceable song. Lead singer Fraser’s wide-smiling stage presence and contagious happiness was hard not to like, as he and bassist Tom clearly enjoy their work. Even despite a technical issue which could have derailed their momentum, the band took it in stride, continuing like nothing had happened; they’re good at performing, and they’ve got the fans to prove it. Yet, as they played their 2017 track ‘Home’, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d heard all this before.

Though the band are great performers, their music seems stuck in that period of time when indie-folk became the “big thing”; ‘Home’ is replete with every trope in modern indie folk, opening with an airy “ah, ah / ah, ah, ah” over a sparkly acoustic guitar, which leads into the same melody, but with gang vocals instead. Fraser sings in an inflection far too reminiscent of Keaton Henson, or Marcus Mumford (except make him a tenor). The Pigeons’ feel altogether like an indie-folk pastiche, like Mumford & Sons meets The Lumineers meets Passenger meets the (500) Days of Summer OST. They’re perfectly fine indie folk fare and great performers, but the times have changed, and the band need to move forward; as of now, their music already feels dated.

Mikhail Hanafi

Header Image via Mikhail Hanafi