The Veils: Live Last Night

veils

Live Last Night

By Mark Jenkins

Veils frontman Finn Andrews is the sort of performer who'd clearly prefer not be called "fresh-faced." Saturday night at the Rock & Roll Hotel, the New Zealander wore a porkpie hat and a few days of stubble as he led his London-based quartet through an hour of storm-lashed ballads and tormented blues-rockers. Invoking Jesus and the sea, Andrews sang in a growl that implied eternities of strife. Later this month, he'll turn 26.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The musician has a post-punk pedigree -- father Barry Andrews was in XTC and Shriekback -- and has studied closely the artier varieties of '80s British rock. In addition to emulating such latter-day bluesmen as Nick Cave, the Veils called on the Smiths's music-hall jauntiness and Big Country's highland grandeur. Indeed, the material was so stylistically familiar that it sometimes seemed Andrews and his cohorts had nothing to add but the fire of the moment. Such big numbers as the set-closing "Larkspur" were tumultuous but slight.

While the songs followed an established script, Andrews sometimes enlivened them by improvising. He asked if the crowd wanted to hear "Sit Down by the Fire" on piano or guitar, and accepted the cries of "piano" while warning that it would probably be better on guitar. Later, playing several encores without the rest of the band, he couldn't overcome the electrobeats seeping through the ceiling. So he added the line, "they're playing house music upstairs," to "The Wild Son." Such asides did more to demonstrate Andrews's spirit than his yearning lyrics or baying guitar.

By David Malitz |  August 3, 2009; 2:20 AM ET Live Last Night
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