The Birds of Appetite: Hopewell Live
Hopewell live at the Borderline
By Amanda Farah.
Britain has thus far missed out on what a band like Hopewell has to offer. The Brooklyn five piece’s outstanding second album, Hopewell and the Birds Of Appetite never got a UK release, and the spaced-out, psychedelic romp was only available to those who made the effort to track down imports.
Hopewell made their return to the UK on the release of their third album, Beautiful Targets (which was released in the UK on 17 July) with a few dates around London and an intended appearance at the Truck Festival in Oxford (no word yet if they’ll be playing the rescheduled
Their show at the Borderline was a mix of old and new material, opening with ‘All Angels Road’ from their latest release. With more of those danceable beats they do so well and sweet, harmonized vocals punctuated by Jason Russo’s sometimes yelped leads beg for this song to be released as a single.
Following ‘All Angels Road’ was the stand-out track from The Birds Of Appetite, “Calcutta”. Amazing though the recorded track may be, accented with puffs of a brass section and swirling guitars, nothing quite compares to its energy when played live. Strange though it may seem to dance to a song with weighty lyrics that compare a life obsessed with consumerism to being born in a lower Indian caste, the infectious rhythm makes it impossible not to move.
It seems reasonable to want personality in a live show, to find that extra something in a live performance to make you want to leave your house rather than staying home and listening to a band’s album. Hopewell could not possibly pack the whole of their album arrangements
into their stage show; their albums are lively because of those arrangements, but they merely compensate for what can’t be translated to tape.
Stripped down by comparison, Hopewell fill in the gaps with noise, energy, and the fact that the songs are strong enough to stand without the filler. Russo, brought up in his early days with Mercury Rev and polished on the New York club scene, is equal parts charm and mania, highlighted by his marked wit. Bassist Rich Meyer is delightful to watch, a fact aided by the grin painted on his face; quite plainly, when a band look like they are enjoying themselves that much, it’s difficult not to enjoy yourself while watching them. And when everything comes to a head and finally bursts with ‘Trumpet For A Lung,’ the music too loud, the band somewhere between very pleased and completely spastic, it is then you realise what you’ve been missing out on.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER/PHOTOGRAPHER:
Amanda Farah is a writer and photographer from New York who has resettled herself in London. She writes about music and other things and is a regular contributor to CMJ.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, August 8th, 2007.