Band of Horses delivers flawless set

Band of Horses has not reshaped the music industry. They haven’t established an entirely new style of music or paved a fresh road for aspiring musicians to trek. Instead, like many other bands, Band of Horses has loosely clung to their roots and has mimicked some of their influences. However, the band has surpassed mere emulation and has formed a niche of its own, one with recognizable elements of classic and melodic rock, of Southern styling and folk instrumentation.

Furthermore, it always comes with a twist and something fresh and stirring thrown into the mix.

A lot of this is due to the delivery of vocalist Ben Bridwell, whose high registered vocals and unrivaled falsetto has prompted comparisons to My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and singer-songwriter Neil Young. Bridwell’s way of enunciating his words in such a fluid manner causes the lyrics to flow in an effortless, distinct fashion that complements the strong instrumentation throughout the albums.

Band of Horses kick-started the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater’s concert season on Saturday night with a 22-track set list that encapsulated their finest songs and validated their ever-increasing success, which includes a Grammy nomination for their third studio album, Infinite Arms. The band opened the show with a fiery new track titled “Bats” and continued from there to the title track of their most recent album, Infinite Arms. It, unlike the studio version containing light guitars, gentle timpani rolls and soft harmonies, contained the same fiery punch as the opening track of the show. Delivering the songs with such drive was made easier by the mercilessly loud speakers of the amphitheater. Despite the harsh volume level, Band of Horses was able to preserve the flawless, beautiful harmonies and the melodious guitar parts present in their songs.

This was especially apparent with Everything All the Time’s “The Great Salt Lakes,” a crowd favorite filled with some of the most pleasing guitar riffs the band has mustered, and Cease To Begin’s “No One’s Gonna Love You,” which contains seamless vocal hook after another. As the show progressed, the band was able to perform over half of the tracks, consisting of all the crowd favorites, on each of their three studio albums. They persistently kept the crowd excited by performing one hit track after the other, which is not a difficult task with such a consistent song collection like theirs.

They were also able to perform these tracks without the slightest glimpse of a flaw or blemish. The vocals were spot-on, the guitar section didn’t lack a single bend or strum and the harmonies soared even higher than on the albums.
After performing 19 straight tracks, Bridwell announced the band’s “fake final track,” blatantly hinting at the approaching encore, and broke into Everything All the Time’s “Monsters,” their final track of the main set. The track began with Bridwell lightly picking a pedal steel guitar and gradually crescendoed into one of the high points of the show.

Bridwell’s falsetto rang out above the running guitar lines and clanking ride cymbal hits and swelled into a fullness that ended as abruptly as it began. The band bound off the stage with little thought, swaying the crowd into a fit of clapping and cheering, waiting backstage only a few minutes before making their reappearance.

For the encore, the band performed a cover of Graham Parson’s “She” before unveiling their magnum opus, “The Funeral.” Bridwell calmly opened the song with his chilling voice and light guitars, but the song soon exploded into a wall of sound with the biggest build of the night, releasing all of their energy and putting it towards propelling the song through its gorgeous melodies.

The stacked set list and superb performance from the band made the show a strong and memorable one, reinforcing the growing success of a great modern-day band, one that is well past the days of mere television commercial airplay and now in a world of Grammy nominations and sold-out amphitheater performances. Despite that, however, Band of Horses is still true to the sound.


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