Lamb The Brixton Academy, London UK - May 9, 2003

If eclecticism goes over the top, it runs the danger of becoming embarrassing. But British duo Lamb, consisting of the ethereally beautiful Louise Rhodes and the kinetic Andy Barlow, manage to keep kitsch at bay by the sheer depth of their sincerity on stage. Rescheduled from February, as Lamb have been working on their fourth album in a farmhouse in Bath, England, Barlow told the packed house that this is the biggest gig they had played in England thus far — admitting that there was nervousness mixed in with the excitement. The usual line-up of a live drummer, guitarist and upright bassist joined the duo, along with a string quartet. Despite (or maybe because of) the nervousness, they delivered the goods, keeping up their reputation for remarkable live performances. The set began with Louise Rhodes seated centre stage under flashes of light and Barlow masterfully demonstrating his capacity to create washes of sound, blips and crackles while making it all seem gorgeously earthy. All the familiar dynamics were present — a screen projecting images of the band onstage, the antics of Barlow racing between his decks, to playing the djembe, as well as the stand-up bass player enticing the crowd and feeding off of their approving energy. They drew from a wide-ranging mix of tracks, kicking off the night, after their gorgeous instrumental intro, with the off-kilter Rhodes-style call-to-arms "Little Things," from Fear of Fours, before weaving into "Gold," from their debut album. There were plenty of new songs, which show that Lamb is drawing even more influences from Afro-Brazilian sounds and live percussion than they have done previously. But the highlight of the night was clearly hearing "Heaven," "Gabriel" and "Small," from What Sound, their last album. The songs are evocative mantras more than anything else and when Rhodes swooned, "it strikes me we get lost so soon after birth/but one smile can turn over heaven and earth," in "Small," you want to believe her and with the enormity of the live experience, you do. Ineffable indeed.