Music: Live Review – Ben Abraham / Other Lives, Islington

. Note to 60 in One Night

The fog seeped into the stone furrows of London town this week, like natures ethereal construction hoarding masking the annual refurbishment of the land for it’s seasonal change and emerging it’s cocoon like a swarm of LED Christmas butterflies addicted to limestone. On Tuesday night out Islington way, the musical accompaniment to this metamorphosis was presented through the notes and melodies of Thom Yorke/Radiohead tour approved Other Lives hailing from Oklahoma and a sole antipodean Ben Abraham who was playing London for the first time. I’m pretty sure Thom Yorke would like him too.

Abraham has been playing his beautiful folk/sincerity soaked songs for years, but has only recently signed to the wonderful Secretly Canadian label (War On Drugs, Antony & The Johnsons) with plans to release an new album early next year.

Silently drifting onto the stage like very weather itself, with no announcement but for a very modest ‘Hello.’ Unlike the weather he immediately enveloped us all in warmth, using just his incredible voice and acoustic guitar. Also unlike the weather he has a great sense of humour gently informing us ‘I’m Ben from Australia, you might be able to tell I’ve got alot of feelings.’

Ben Abraham

Releasing all these ‘feelings’ upon us was a joy to behold (except for the noisy bar staff at the back of the hall) as he mixed up extremely tender, captivating fragile songs with bouts of jokey banter to keep an honest levity that isn’t always found in the often solemn folk magic circles. He even did a beautiful cover of Cloudbursting by Kate Bush to add to the magic of an all too fleeting set.

He’s around London for the next couple of months, so at least we can go see him again.

Next up were headliners Other Lives touring on their latest album, the gorgeous, rich and sonically velveteen ‘Rituals’. Emerging onto the fog spilt stage with the bare trickle of sound microscopically almost imperceptibly building in the intro, to a total synapses flooding level over the life of the show, they really are a band that has to be experienced live to fully understand both their musical prowess and the depth of influence. To the greater extent their sound is quite difficult to describe beyond a baroque orchestra of sound via the greatest experimental moments of the Beach Boys and The Beatles via Ennio Morricone. Which really is a stunning base camp for adventures out on the great sound plains.


Their show becomes an event as their soft gentle fireside tales build slowly into epic acoustic storms completely defying your eyes that such few members of a band could generate a sound so huge and dense, making at times lead singer/frontman Jesse Tabish look like an symphony conductor, or indeed Moses parting the sound waves. Rituals did after all have Philip Glass as one of it’s inspirations.

The ever building emotion is not let dissipate by Jesse’s interspersed jovial humble chat, as songs are allowed to segue into each other clearly aiming for a rapture or enlightenment, which is a very admirable objective indeed. They have many beautiful songs, but none more so (for me) than ‘English Summer’ which is so lush, full and reaffirming that any creative force who produces such a work is destined for wonderful things.

In keeping with doing a cover theme, they wrapped us in a beautiful version of Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’ before releasing us back into the wilds of London after our wonderful tour of the sumptuous universe they had just sculpted together.


Follow Other Lives on @OtherLives and Ben Abraham on @benabrahammusic.