Opener Woke Up Dead sets the tone for tonight’s show, starting with a heavier sound than the more subtle album start before building throughout the song to parallel the album track. Though there are technical issues with Kyla’s guitar her vocals shine through, making the comparisons to Kate Bush and Florence And The Machine feel more than justified. Whilst for me it takes until the marching rhythm of Been Better to really find myself lost in the sound, it’s clear the rest of the crowd are captivated from the word go.
Though at times the set seems almost ominous, Kyla adds anger and sorrow to her sound, creating a feeling that lingers long after the end of the set. Heavy Stone is comparatively stripped back compared to the rest of the set and her the pain in Kyla’s voice combines with a drum beat akin to a heartbeat. Meanwhile Vampire Smile is clearly the song that has drawn the crowd in and her husky, seductive vocals give a hint of Katie Melua, highlighting her vocal dexterity.
Walk Through Walls carries an anthemic quality to it, and it’s during this song I get drawn in by the band, the punchy riffs and bass heavy sound carrying the song. It’s the kind of song that is larger than the venue, calling for a festival stage to really allow it the space it commands. To Be Torn on the other hand carries a more haunting style, and the band are sympathetic to this swelling in the background mid way through the song to build before stripping it back for the final chorus and marking it as one of the tracks of the night.
Sadly, it seems that sound inevitably suffers in the Oxford Academy and for Kyla La Grange there’s no exception. The volume is pushed up too high, leaving it to become distorted and muffled amid the black of the room, and Kyla’s vocals occasionally fall flat in the mixing. Despite this, by the end I’m won over and though tonight is short, it makes me realise that Ashes is perhaps one of the most innovative albums of 2012.