Alesund brought their All Hail To Your Queen tour to the intimate surroundings of The Kings Arms in Salford on Tuesday night with support from OLA (One Little Atlas) and Luna, three very different acts but who each captivated the audience in their own way.
Luna opens up the evening with a set of songs that showcase her powerful and emotional voice. Accompanied by keyboards, electronic drums and backing tracks, it's the voice that takes centre stage on songs like 5am, Wind, Lay Like Stars and recent single Night Drive, all of which come from her forthcoming EP Hello Earth. In the way she expresses herself as she's singing these songs you can tell that these songs are coming from the heart and are incredibly personal. Minor technical difficulties are dealt with professionally and with a smile that makes the audience warm to her more.
OLA (One Little Atlas) are stalwarts of the Manchester scene, always intriguing, seeking to move into new sonic territory and their set tonight is heavy on new material after a (publicly) quiet 2019 with a new EP scheduled for the next few months. Kevan laughs at one track being a single and it being followed by a big pretentious one, and whilst the description of the latter is self-deprecating, the statement shows that OLA are opening up to make their sound a little more accessible to a wider audience than the majestic soundscapes that they've produced in the past without losing their ability to experiment and take their listener on a journey.
One of the new songs Searching takes us on such a journey and one that ends in Kevan singing "you're beautiful" has enough ideas in it for an album on its own. The big pretentious one is far from it, just a further exploration of how you can fuse live guitar, bass and keys with a stack of pedals and judicious programming to create something that's quite intoxicating. Even with the stale surroundings (for them) of being seated, they still make the vital connection between band and audience.
It's an adjective that could equally be applied to Alesund for different reasons. Alba's vocal delivery is simply exquisite to the extent that she could be singing the phone book and you'd be hooked by the expression on tracks like If You Let Me, Exits and In My Arms. By the time they finish the set with a stunning version of Pins And Needles that has the room in silent awe as it builds and lifts with the sort of magic that people would flock to see at more hallowed spaces like The Bridgewater Hall across town.
A great voice can mean little if the songs don't give it the oxygen to breathe and the new single Hail To The Queen, dedicated to all the women in the room, and a brand new song about taking care of yourself and others, dedicated to supportive people in their local Bristol music network and beyond, as well as the aforementioned Pins And Needles show that Alba and the band are building a set of songs to seduce audiences much bigger than the several dozen that sit mesmerised.
The music is understated, but vital to the sound that's being created as it lifts and twists and turns in just the right places. Even a cover of Radiohead's Talk Show Host, one of the original band's finest moments, is taken and turned into an Alesund song, although Alba swearing does take us aback slightly given what's gone before. But it's the voice that grabs us and holds us sat twenty feet away from her in a way that you can't replicate in a recording studio that will be the abiding memory of the evening.
Alesund's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
OLA's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Luna is on Facebook and Twitter.