Live Review: Palace, Bodega (04/04/17)

Following on from the success of their first album So Long Forever, Palace’s hypnotic melodies and mellow guitar riffs continue to transcend the pain of bereavements and broken hearts to evoke the feeling of bittersweet happiness and that, somehow, everything will be alright.

The effortlessly laid back, London-based four-piece took the stage in Bodega’s cosy first-floor and, with no introduction, delved straight into a heavenly hour-long set.

Playing to a crowd ranging from students to middle-aged women, the serene, almost drowsy tone of Palace’s self-described “blues-rock” music strikes a chord within everyone. No surprise, then, that this Nottingham show was sold out.

“There was […] a quiet sense that all four band members were connected and completely at ease both with each other and the music”

The band set the scene with their signature atmospheric tone, beginning with ‘Head Above the Water’ from their Chase the Light EP. Frontman Leo Wyndham’s moody onstage vibe captivated the audience, who swayed gently, letting the combination of soulful music and auroral purple lights shower them.

From their Lost in the Night EP came ‘I Want What You Got’, another ethereal song to which the audience sang along gently, despite being, perhaps, one of the less well recognised tracks of the night.

Throughout the set and in-between songs there was no talking, no nodding or checking up on one another, but rather a quiet sense that all four band members were connected and completely at ease both with each other and the music.

About halfway through the gig, one fairly drunk man in the audience started hyping Palace and especially Leo up, talking at him rather than to him. It developed into a conversation with the enthusiastic fan telling Leo that he came tonight with his mum.

A surprised Leo smiled and dedicated the next song to the mum, a bespectacled woman somewhat embarrassed by her animated albeit drunk son. Aptly, the opening chords of ‘Family’ were strummed, and as the first lyric, “mother”, oozed from Leo’s lips, everyone’s focus returned from the unexpected exchange back to the music.

Played next was perhaps one of the most under appreciated and saddest of Palace’s songs, ‘Holy Smoke’, which received a mixed response from the crowd, some of whom seemed unfamiliar or untouched by the track but still nodded along to the passionate gloom that emanated from the four man band.

“Leo’s sensual constant hip swaying as he strummed gave Palace’s music an unexpected and beautiful realness…”

What started off as a tranquil, atmospheric gig with the crowd gently swaying and singing to each song took a strange turn as soon as the opening chords of Palace’s most recognised song, ‘Bitter’, were heard: a mosh pit ensued.

The fact that Leo visibly cracked a smile amidst performing was enough to know that this was unexpected and frankly quite weird. The initial four man mosh pit developed into a third of the crowd jumping into each other while Palace continued playing as if they’ve seen stranger things happen at a mellow blues gig.

Overall, Bodega’s luminous purple lights and Leo’s sensual hip swaying as he strummed gave Palace’s music an unexpected and beautiful realness live compared to their records.

The rising indie band’s talent shone clearly in every track and their humility even clearer when they hung around afterwards selling merch and taking photos with fans, before heading downstairs for a pint. An evening well spent and a band I would love to see again.

Nikou Asgari

Image courtesy of Nikou Asgari

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