Since the release of his debut album, Symptoms, last year, The Lion and the Wolf (brainchild of Isle of Wight singer-songwriter Thomas George) hasn’t stopped – playing a yearlong tour around Europe before landing into Brighton for his penultimate show, supporting PJ Bond, last month.
Originally set to play Fitzherbert’s, we’ve got to admit their choice of last-minute venue change left us slightly puzzled. Although we adore The Quadrant for all its dingy pub glory (and their fantastic choice of craft beers – including Meantime’s Chocolate Porter), we’d been to a few Fringe comedy shows there in May, and questioned the venue’s capability for a gig, given its tiny capacity.
As it turned out, our preconceptions couldn’t have been more wrong, and its understated atmosphere worked ridiculously well. Though the show was far from what we’d expected as we listened to George’s debut on repeat for the previous month, what we experienced may even have been better – in fact, we don’t think we’ve ever been to a gig quite so intimate (and this coming from the same people who experienced Slow Club’s descent into the crowd during their encore earlier this year). With a capacity of around 25, we found ourselves surrounded not by squealing fans or groupies, but by the artists themselves, taking turns to heckle their friends on stage and mingle with the (admittedly small) crowd. It’s a dynamic that can be a little touch and go, however was somehow orchestrated with the perfect level of informality: more welcoming and homely as opposed to simply not giving a shit.
So, on to the music. Supported by some fantastic singer-songwriters (including Heart of Oak, whose 30th birthday resulted in everyone getting progressively more inebriated as the night went on), The Lion and the Wolf took to the stage with soft, acoustic renditions of the early Barstools, a taster of his upcoming album (due out in October), My Father’s Eyes, and album favourite, Colours. Beautifully performed with a highly impressive vocal range and a lullaby gentility, we were slightly disappointed by the short set (lasting a measly 25 minutes, and absent of Ink and Skin and Bandages – a couple of great songs we’d been looking forward to). However, the collective effort of the heartbreaking The Hole That It Leaves, where PJ Bond and Heart of Oak supplied flawless backing harmonies, saved it – closing the show perfectly.
Despite the raw, informal, almost-improvised nature of the show at the Quadrant that night, we probably had more fun there than we had at a gig for a while. We’d highly recommend heading down to see The Lion and the Wolf on his next visit (word has it he’s exploring new avenues with the new material, and we couldn’t be more excited), however we admittedly hope for a different venue this time, and perhaps something a little more structured – we’re not convinced a repetition of this formula will earn many fans next time round.
By Nammie Matthews