Brixton’s Windmill had a distinctly North American flavour to it, about it with a cold (and windy) November Monday being warmed up by the scuzzy blues of J.D. Smith and the alt-country tinged Bearhat. Then, filling all corners of the bijou stage, were tonight’s headliners, Canadian six-piece Hey Rosetta!
Part-way through a mini European tour, Hey Rosetta! have already garnered some very favourable reviews back home for their live shows, as well as their debut album, the Hawksley Workman-produced Into Your Lungs. Comparisons have been drawn with the likes of Wilco and Arcade Fire, but for me the parallels with their Canadian compatriots are the most apposite. With that indie rock twist on alt-country, fleshed out with orchestral flourishes, Hey Rosetta! go for the epic, yet manage to avoid ending up with the overblown.
Singer and main songwriter Tim Baker is an engaging front-man, swapping piano for guitar (even mid-song) and certainly doesn’t shirk his vocal duties, with a delivery worthy of the drama in his songs.
You could accuse Hey Rosetta! of being a bit formulaic, with songs tending to start off very low key, with either just a solo piano or acoustic guitar, slowly building up momentum before exploding into life, but who cares when they do it so well? Also, they tend to throw a little of the unexpected into the mix, such as the intro to the song Holy Shit (What a Relief), which tips a sizeable doff of the cap to Pink Floyd’s Breathe, from prog epic Dark Side Of The Moon.
By the time Hey Rosetta! got to the end of their set, closing with the typically rousing New Goodbye, even the most hard-bitten of Brixtonians at the Windmill were swept along by the band’s energy.
After a couple more London dates, Hey Rosetta! are due to head back across the Pond to finish off the year with more Canadian shows. Though largely unknown in these parts at the moment, I’m pretty sure that we’ll be hearing as lot more of Hey Rosetta! in the months to come.
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