The Verse’s Tom Evans tells us what he thought of Loney Dear at The Hope & Ruin on 14th February 2018.
This was one of those times where it was definitely worthwhile getting to the venue early enough to catch the support act. Ajimal is a project of Fran O’Hanlon and on the night he was backed up by a drummer and additional electronic sounds, complimenting O’Hanlon’s keyboard and vocals.
He has a great voice and the music they produced was almost cinematic in style. It had a folk infused electronica feel to it so there were echoes of The Postal Service and Villagers in his music.
With a name like Loney Dear it was quite apt that he played a gig in Brighton on Valentine’s day. His music is as melancholic as the name suggests, but there are moments of joy and many tracks have a pop sheen to them. He was also telling jokes and interacting with the audience during the gig, which was refreshing.
Swedish multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen is Loney Dear and, like the support act, had someone onstage with him providing additional keys and electronic sounds. He was touring in support of his self-titled album, first album since 2011, which is probably about the time I last saw him live. He played at the Great Escape a few years ago and was definitely one of my highlights that year.
After opening with a new track, he launched into My Heart, which is just beautiful.
A lot of the set was taken from the new album including one of the standout songs from the night, Sum.
Other songs taken from the new album included Hulls and Humbug. They definitely had a John Grant vibe to them, which is no bad thing. Loney Dear’s haunting vocals were layered over slightly off kilter piano chords and electronic soundscapes.
He mixed things up a little bit towards the end with Little Jacket that had echoes of Eraser era Thom Yorke. It was great to hear a different pace to his music, which was a bit more in your face compared to most of the songs played.
The main set closed with another oldie, Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl, which begins with him just singing ‘namanama’ over and over again, on top of a luscious backing track. He didn’t actually leave the stage, and after checking if there was a curfew, played a couple more songs including one with just him on acoustic guitar.
The final song, Sinister, was absolutely gorgeous and the perfect way to end the evening. The title, perhaps being a little misleading, was one of the most uplifting songs of the night.
It is worth saying how nice and down to earth Loney Dear was. Rather than rushing off stage, he hung around and chatted with fans. I’m a bit of a nerd and like collecting set-lists; he apologised that he didn’t have one, but he kindly wrote one out for me by hand.