In our last report on Liverpool Sound City, Martin Secret Mystery Pants lends his ears to the dusky West Coast psychedelia of one-time Devendra Banhart collaborators, Vetiver.
Given Vetiver‘s penchant for mixing British pastoral folk with a heavy dose of 60’s West Coast, Topanga Canyon psychedelia, I entered Liverpool’s Barfly expecting the kind of hairy, sandal and sock sporting folkies that bastardised Dylan when he got hip to electricity.
It was a pleasant surprise then to find a crowd of mixed ages, all eager to see San Francisco’s psych folk ensemble touring in support of their third album, the aptly titled Thing of The Past.
Appearing tonight as a four-piece, frontman Andy Cabic leads his bunch of hairy minstrels through songs old and new in a hushed and subdued manner although at times, this is precisely the problem.
The absence of cellist, Alissa Anderson leaves many of the early favourites sounding drab and dull while the rest of the band seem content to meander through each number with some gentle and uninspired noodling.
After a few jokes about Ringo Starr‘s latest musical homage to Liverpool and a cover from Fleetwood Mac‘s Tusk, it seemed nothing could save San Francisco’s most laidback from gradually creeping into Deadhead territory.
The fact that a band named after a species of grass originating from a remote region of India could evoke such a mellow atmosphere came as no surprise, what I wasn’t expecting was to feel the need to indulge in some in order to make the music sound more interesting.
While Vetiver are not the most captivating live performers, each one of their albums lulls a listener into another world.
They may not be capable of converting this atmosphere into a live setting but they more than make up for it when listening at home.
I would recommend any fan of old or contemporary folk music to save their money on the price of a gig ticket and buy any one of their albums instead.