Consistently fronted by Richard Thomas, Brother & Bones are a folk-slash-indie rock band who dazzle their audiences with different members each time they perform. With the release of their Hold Me Like a Sun single in November and UK tour dates with Dry the River and Ben Howard, they’ve undoubtedly been blessed with favours from the above. To our good fortune, their relentless, Odyssean struggle brought them within the walls of Fibbers in May. Supporting them were Harrogate and Hartlepool’s Pony & Trap and a local two-piece Sing Ramona Sing.
Pony & Trap make a good impression even before mounting the stage –drink coasters with their logo were seen high and low across the venue. As the band appeared, the audience began to crowd around the stage. Looking flowery, the two-piece Pony & Trap played their own variation of post-punk characterized by the quirky vocals of Sally Rafferty. It worked well most of the time but there was a noticeable problem with their own material – the longer, more complex songs didn’t seem to flow smoothly. However, when the band stuck to shorter, punchier numbers – such as the cover of Undertones’ Teenage Kicks – they showed potential.
Following on were the acoustic-folk duo Sing Ramona Sing. Though their set seemed initially marred by the overwhelming loudness of their electric guitar, the issue was addressed for the group to make headway. As with many representatives of their arguably overdone genre, it felt clear that their main problem was keeping it feeling original. Having said this, they gained something special on their fourth song when the voice of singer Martin Cook reached a state of controlled fragility. Evidently able to separate the wheat from the chaff, they commented themselves on the success of this number.
As a strong turn in the evening, Brother & Bones started off with the notable single Here Comes the Storm. ‘Keep your feet on solid ground’ sung their frontman Rich Thomas with the wisdom of knowing that they were about to blow the audience away. But before this happened, he shared an endearing tour-tale of bad luck involving a car and plenty of water.
The voice of Mr Thomas had the same heart-rending powers as Caleb Followhill’s but also possessed the clarity and forcefulness comparable to Chris Cornell‘s. This, alongside the brilliantly precise guitar strumming, made his solo acoustic Gold & Silver one of the evening’s highlights.
But add the band and suddenly more gems cropped up. The anthem-single Hold Me Like a Sun or even the rougher and more dynamic Don’t Forget to Pray showcased just how tight the band is – guitars and drums reigned but subsided occasionally and only momentarily to grant space to Rich’s soaring vocals. They returned mere seconds later with primal intensity. Then there were the songs like Your Revolution which brought them closer to the hard rock territory. They are an act with passion and precision in their bones. You can catch them live this summer during one of the festivals or wait for October tour in support of the upcoming EP.By Alex Jasinski