Live Review: Lord Huron - The Plug, Sheffield 27/10/2018
Lord Huron were a long way from home in the Hollywood Hills when they arrived at the relatively intimate The Plug in Sheffield’s town centre, a far cry from their recording space, Whispering Pines Studios, in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the Californian Americana-folk band with rock infused tendencies turned in an inspiring performance. The crowd came away delighted, enchanted with awe.
Sparking off their set was their fearsome foot-stomper ‘Never Ever’, track two from their eerily dark, apocalyptic third album, Vide Noir. Here is a demonstration of their evolution towards psychedelic rock and was quickly followed by the energetic ‘The World Ender’. Their avid fans, The World Enders, brought banners and enthusiasm that lifted the atmosphere to the next level, and were duly appreciated by nods and glances to the crowd by the band.
Lord Huron again stepped back to their previous album Strange Trails to play the playful, upbeat tune of ‘Meet Me in the Woods’. The crowd didn’t miss the chance to warm up from the near sub temperatures outside and were engaged throughout. Next was ‘Secret of Life’, a dreamy number from the sinister Vide Noir, filled with fuzzed out guitars, proceeded quickly to a lively ‘Dead Man’s Hand’. Here, the ever-charming lead man, Ben Schneider, briefly treated us to some sweet-sounding harmonica playing. On Schneider, if I ever did see Indiana Jones’ musical brother, its him. In fairness, much of their music is inspired by adventure and enlightenment, and is filled with fully immersive, diversely imaginative soundscapes. All that was missing was a crack of a whip.
‘Back from the Edge’ is about someone who survived an attempt on their life after being blackbrained. There’s a certain hypnotizing cinematics to their unique sound, a wonderful creative vision seen through to the max. It was delivered perfectly, much to the appreciation of the crowd. Next came a popular song of theirs recently covered by Country music royalty, Kenny Chesney. That song is ‘Ends of the Earth’. The first track from their spaghetti-western themed debut album Lonesome Dreams, it is in fact the fourth volume of their fictional world creation of George Ranger Johnson. All of Lord Hurons albums follow a creative narrative created by the band and keeps their World Enders busy guessing the plot. “To the ends of the earth would you follow me? / There's a world that was meant for our eyes to see” the crowd bellowed back in what was a very impressive moment.
They effortlessly transitioned from ‘She Lit a Fire’ into the mesmerising ‘Wait by the River’, one they performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Ben indulged in some on stage dramatics, losing his guitar and waving his hat. It was a treat.
The show went on for an outstanding 21 songs plus a Pure Black Void, L.A. inspired pre-recorded poem that added to the emotions. Their mid-set included the atmospheric, stellar anthem ‘Ancient Names pt. 1’, the ballad ‘La Belle Fleur Sauvage’ and the popular ‘Fool For Love’, and without fail was consistent cheering following each song. Before Fool, Ben threw flowers to the World Enders, a small touch, but made fans evenings. A lovely, classy touch from the experienced performer.
The heavy and wonderous ‘Ancient Names pt. 2’ was made to be played live: it is a soul-enriching cosmic-rock sonic assault. Schneider rocking his signature cowboy-esque head ware, accompanied by Mark Barry on drums, Miguel Briseño on guitar, and Tom Renaud on bass, as well as two touring musicians, went on an adrenaline rush. ‘Way Out There’ a few songs later, brought calm and reflection. From album two, Strange Trails, Schneider creates a dark, challenged world filled with people rising from the dead and howling through the dark. Between tracks, Lord Huron utilised moody sound effects of the wilderness, to only enrich the cinematic immersion of the world they created.
The band, as is entertainment, ended on ‘Time To Run’, before returning to perform their slow-moving hit record, ‘The Night We Met’. Popularised by the sensation 13 Reasons Why, as proved by the number of phones that went up to record it, the song captures the feelings of losing a romantic partner. A beautiful song. The finale was the melodic but obscure ‘The Stranger’, giving fans one last chance to sway to their fine musical prowess. The night was one many would love to be taken back to already, as it was a delight.
Words and Photography by Matthew Swallow