28/09/2010 | Mt Desolation – The Ballroom, Brighton

Bella Kardasis

Enlisting the talents of diverse multi-instrumentalists, including members of The Killers, Mumford & Sons, Keane and The Staves – Mt. Desolation collectively represent what they set out to do “make a country sounding record”. The final gig of the Mt. Desolation UK tour is perhaps summed up in a quote we can all relate to: “It is very sad but also the most nerve-wracking gig because Tim’s mum is in the audience”.

The Brighton Ballroom’s eclectic decor suitably matches the range of musical styles that would emerge from the collective throughout the evening. From their opening it is clear that country and certainly americana is the main intention, however it seems to be an umbrella genre under which flavours of roots, blues, rockabilly, crooning and electronic shine through. Steering away from saturating their audience with the immense sound they are surely capable of, the group are not shy about giving space to their dynamics, which resonate well given the domed space they have to fill.

With most main vocals coming from Keane bassist Jesse Quin, contrast in backing from Tim Rice-Oxley and Jess Stavely-Taylor – of support act The Staves – provided the full harmonies and allow for tunes such as Midnight Ghost, optimistic and haunting, to be a vocally-led experience bringing out the importance of the storytelling in country and blues.

A vast contrast later in the set with State of Our Affairs and The Departure, in close proximity of one another, really demonstrates their ability to comfortably span genres in the same gig, without forcing a whole new ambience and somehow it works.

It is a rare pleasure to see so much interaction on stage, not only in cueing but eye contact and playful communication; they actually look like they were having fun. Mt. Desolation present themselves as performers, unassuming and collaborative, without the showboating and predesign of possessing artists from heavily mainstream bands of recent years. Suffice to say, it is novel to appreciate them and their work as an independent group.