There’s always a risk that the divide between audience and band won’t be crossed in the course of a gig. Tonight, that risk becomes reality for Paper Aeroplanes and at times it feels as though they’re playing to an empty room. Though opener Lost creates a sense of climax (the instruments added one by one and blending with Sarah’s vocals until it becomes a cacophony of sounds) the audience don’t step up with it.
This in turn leaves a packed crowd hushed for the duration of the set. During Time To Be I spot several of the audience singing along, but it’s under hushed whispers as if they don’t wish to be noticed. It’s almost as if they’re too respectful, which leaves the band with little to go on. Still, troubadours of their trade the band deliver new songs and old with a delicacy which is intoxicating. It’s not long before I get lost in the subtlety of the arrangements, especially in Same Mistakes which boasts a sparse yet beefy bass accompaniment from Nizolopi’s John Parker, who has joined the duo on tour.
Songs from their new album Little Letters feature heavily, and live these numbers come to life. Singing To Elvis though happier in subject than the majority of Paper Aeroplanes’ songs (what’s not to like about Sunday mornings?) still sounds mournful in it’s delivery, especially as Richard steps up to sing harmonies. Conversely The Day The Window’s Shook has a more amped sound, pushing the volume to the max and moving from a folky vibe to a more indie one. Still it’s Fable, the song which Sarah holds as her favourite, which also marks as one of the highlights of the night. Beautiful both lyrically and in it’s delivery it demands to be played over a movie scene.
Towards the end of the set, Sarah takes to a drum in Little Letters whilst Richard delivers a riff that seeps inside your skin. This combines with the bass from John and drumming of Ryan Aston to act as the pinnacle of the night. The song builds with a sense of urgency and leaves the following songs to fall ever so slightly flat, making me wish this had been their final number. It’s also here that that audience finally seem to be moved by the music, heads and feet tapping along to the beat, though their engagement is still restrained.
It seems however that appearances aren’t everything, and after the show the queue to the merch table and vibrant discussions of the band’s set which fill the venue prove the crowd were hanging on every word. It’s just a shame they weren’t able to find a way to convey this during the show. Nevertheless it serves to prove that Paper Aeroplanes are able to deliver a faultless show, regardless of the company in which they find themselves.
Images copyright © Jo Cox. All rights reserved.