Embers: An Evening with Tunng and Friends, HMV Forum, London
Friday 12 November 2010
East London collective Tunng were founded by Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay in 2003. Their winsome combining of folk melodies and harmonies with glitchy electronics soon won them fans, as well as the tag of "folktronica" (though don't let that put you off). After a few albums and growing success, however, Genders stepped aside, leaving female vocalist Becky Jacobs to step into the spotlight alongside Lindsay on their excellent new album ...And Then We Saw Land. Tonight's performance comes with support from their also rather talented "friends" – Hannah Peel, Gable and Sam Amidon – but Genders also makes a few guest appearances onstage. It's a fluid, familial set-up that lends a warm, inclusive atmosphere to the gig.
Their new material has a jauntier feel, and live they're certainly engaging. The audience claps along to banjo, synth and melodica on "Santiago", while "Hustle" is an irrepressibly catchy bit of folk-pop fun. "Weekend Away" becomes a full-crowd singalong, but although we attempt (and fail) to match the combination of Jacobs' and Lindsay's vocals, sadly, few in the crowd also feel tempted to emulate Lindsay's bouncy dance-moves.
It may be November, but "October" – one of the best new tracks – seems to capture the mood of the changing seasons perfectly, the warmth of autumn in those gorgeous voices and the chill of winter in its minor moves.
Tunng throw in some old favourites, too. "Woodcat", with a guesting Genders, is full of wistful loveliness ("I miss your hard edges, I miss your bone marrow/I miss having coffee, in bed watching TV/And we all had a lovely time"). They finish on the warmly received "Bullets", with its steam-train rhythms and multi-voice chorus. "It really has been worth missing X Factor," comments Jacobs glibly. Damn right: we've all had a very lovely time.
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