Farleigh at the Hard Rock Café

Farleigh – successfully deconstructing at the Hard Rock Café.

Following a band shuffle between a handful of grimy local venues builds comforting familiarities: the lyrics, the on-stage banter, the solos, the dodgy sound set-up. But for a soft-rock band whose strong suits are song-writing and rarefied technical proficiency, the local circuit never really did Farleigh any favours.

Nevertheless, they made it to the capitol and the Hard Rock Café’s prestigious live music basement last Wednesday, where enduring followers were at last rewarded with a crystal clear set, with every fussy intricacy finally audible. Yet the addition of keyboards and a new guitarist at this performance also heralds a period of back-to-the-drawing-board experimentation.

To avoid this review going out of date as it is written, I shall just comment on what deserves to be kept and what should disappear. The substitution for a plugged-in acoustic guitar added another welcome layer to their sound, allowing their senior strummer to show off his superior technical abilities. Alongside the bassist the pair created a neat counterpoint to each other as well as sharing backing vocals.

Although only a well-budgeted supplement to a highly structured routine, the synthesizer took weight off the guitarists, and lead-singer Harry Lightfoot was clearly more at home with the keys at his fingertips than with a set of strings slung round his shoulders. It remains to be seen whether the keyboard begins to take a greater role, perhaps towards an edgier, more voltaic noise.  Indeed, a stronger sound may only be possible with heavier vocals and the group might do well to experiment with the more gravelly talents of their newest member.

Farleigh do not lack appreciation from the technically expert, but they could become victims of their own skill if they do not allow themselves to freewheel more manically. Hopefully a period of deconstruction will loosen the strings. The even better news is the Hard Rock Café want them back as do an increasing number of London venues. Not before time.