The Walkmen @ HMV Forum, London 01.11.12

Bearded first saw the Walkmen support Idlewild on their 2002 tour. At that time the Walkmen were one of a few notable breakout NYC based bands comparable to The Strokes. At this show at the HMV Forum we was eager to see how the band had matured or settled on a sound which now suits such a time span.

Nov 1st, 2012 at HMV Forum, London / By Tim Clarke
The Walkmen After a brief welcome from front man Hamilton Leithauser, The Walkmen re-introduced us to their sound with ‘Line by Line’ from their most recent 2012 album Heaven. The theatrical space in which we were sitting perfectly suited the introduction track as the spotlight fell on the lead man. A beautiful swelling waltz performed by lead guitarist Paul Maroon and Leithauser eased the crowd into the intended calm.

‘Heartbreaker’ brings an instant injection of energy to the proceedings however welcoming the other 3 members of the band. The song really exhibits Maroon’s enthusiasm for using vintage equipment featuring a Rickenbacker Capri and a suitable vintage shrill tone to accompany it. 6’4’’ Leithauser really has a great ability to be engaging with the audience whilst an otherwise undistinguishable chord progression from the group is performed, using sweeping arm gestures and lazy leans from side to side with the mic stand – he’s a true performer. ‘Heartbreaker’ really acts as a strong sing-along anthem to rally the crowd in the early stages of the evening.

The Walkmen then move away from their most current material to perform the angular upbeat country number ‘Blue As Your Blood’ from the slightly less critically acclaimed Lisbon. The performance exhibits great musicianship from lively drummer Matt Barrick who provides the majority of the live energy.

‘We Can’t Be Beat’ shows a more relaxed almost folky side of The Walkmen, which in parts could compare to the uplifting vocal melodies which the Fleet Foxes tend to stun audiences with. Coincidently Phil Ek produced both Heaven and the Fleet Foxe’s Helplessness Blues, which may explain some of the shift in the Walkmen’s recent sound.

Mid point in the gig the band drop ‘In The New Year’, which fills the room with shimmering reverb heavy guitars and bellowing organs. This provides a great blend of sound when they are performing at their loudest. Lerithauser’s howling vocal performance, which at points verges on a scream, is a centre-piece of the band’s high tempo electric numbers. In their 10 year existence The Walkmen have never experienced a change of personnel which makes their live performances a real thrill to watch regardless of your outlook on their brand of indie-rock. It’s a refined sound of superb engaging musicianship in addition to experience, which clearly makes for a strong live show, which they are renowned for.

Floorfiller ‘The Rat’ was the group’s second single which the crowd instantly cheered in its infancy with drummer Barrick providing frenzied running fills to drive the track. Although the track features as the bands flagship early work it showed the progression that the band has experienced whilst still performing the work with the same intensity and enthusiasm as their recent releases.
The crowd urged the Walkmen back after their set had finished for a two-song encore performing ‘Louisiana’ featuring a 4 part horn section.

With their extensive back catalogue The Walkmen still impress audiences by performing a good mix of interesting croon-waltz ballads along with bright and pounding crowd pleasers. A fantastic live band and still top of their game.