By Alan RantaFink delivered a slightly stripped-down set this evening, with founding member and principal songwriter Fin Greenall and drummer Tim Thornton appearing minus their usual bassist Guy Whittaker. The intro took "Fear Is Like Fire" to a far sparser, lengthier place than on their pivotal 2011 album Perfect Darkness, with Thornton adding guitar along side Greenall until the crescendo, when he finally broke out soft mallets on his kit. This established the tone for much of their set, twisting the delivery of everything from their catalogue to match their momentary set-up and the mood of the attentive audience, who often shushed talkers to further appreciate the subtleties of the performance.
Greenall professed joy for the opportunities of this present North American tour, as it allowed him to bring back some of their earlier material of which crowds back in his native England were bored stiff, he said. This musing led into an edgy, staccato version of "Pretty Little Thing" from 2006's Biscuits for Breakfast. Later, they performed what he called a remix of "Troubles What Your In" from 2007's Distance and Time, missing the bass guitar underpinning and light string arrangement of the album version, and a rendition of the title track from 2009's Sort of Revolution that retained its propulsive feeling despite Whittaker's absence.
All the older material mixed fluidly with newer tracks like "Berlin Sunrise" and the title cut from Perfect Darkness, all well paced and prolonged to squeeze every ounce of unassumingly seductive tension from their shimmering, progressive singer-songwriter compositions. Thornton was in it to win it, for sure, often singing without a mic, and working a mix of mallets, brushes and occasionally a single prototypical drum stick, but the star of the show remained Greenall. Aside from his tasteful guitar work, Greenall has a voice that could make Mars wet, not in that tawdry Chris Brown begging for sex in the club kinda way, but rather like from a quietly confident guy in the corner who keeps his promises.