The Pierces, Bush Hall, London
Thursday 03 February 2011
The recent history of hotly-tipped Alabaman sisters The Pierces contains nearly every conceivable peak and trough, from the depths of being dropped by their record label to the heights of touring with Coldplay. Their story borders on cinematic cliché at times, but it seems that experience has brought the best out of Catherine and Allison; a decade after their first album was released, they're grabbing the attention their perseverance richly merits.
Regardless of how long it's taken the spotlight to find The Pierces, it's clear that they were born to move in it. Under the swooping lights at Bush Hall, the duo's voices gel seamlessly, their on-stage presence enhanced by an effortless grace and charm. Even in those tracks which drift toward the middle of the road, the audience doesn't lose interest: Allison's alto and Catherine's soprano never miss a note, their vocals evoking memories of everyone from Kate Bush to Martha Wainwright.
Their performance focuses itself on communication rather than ostentation, the pair showing an admirable faith in their own material and a commitment to old-fashioned songwriting. "I Put Your Records On", a track from the group's forthcoming album, is the highlight, its terrific lilting melody and intimate delivery drawing the crowd in after the bass growls of "Love You More" and the thudding drums of "Sticks and Stones". Strangely, it's the most well-known of their tracks, "Secret" (used on TV series soundtracks from Dexter to Gossip Girl) which is the least engaging, but perhaps that's simply because the band plays its new material with such relish that it diminishes the impact of their back-catalogue.
Although not every track is a blockbuster, The Pierces' engaging vocal dexterity – not to mention an innate ability to shift stylistic gears – lifts them above the throng and into the limelight, a place which suits them just fine.
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