The Elephant Trees – Live in Preston
Some years ago I was lucky enough to be in the presence of Amy Winehouse. It was New Year’s day and she was on the hunt for chocolate. My wife had a bag of Minstrels which she gave to Amy and received a loving hug in return.
I thought about that experience last night, when I saw The Elephant Trees perform at The Continental in Preston. Songwriter Martha Philips shares many of Amy’s writing talents. Her songs are often penned from an autobiographical perspective, and contain frank references to the challenges of mental health. Martha can weave musical gold from the darkest recesses of her mind. And, like Amy, she can hold an audience in the palm of her hand.
Of course it helps if your fellow musicians are super talented. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that Martha, Tom and Sam have been together since their school days, but even allowing for that there seems to be a telepathic understanding between them. They’re a tight band on stage, and off it too.
Tonight’s show kicks off with a blistering version of ‘4100’ with drummer Tom Palmer leading the charge. His style is reminiscent of Dominic Howard from Muse, and he possesses a right foot more thunderous than David Beckham. It’s put to good use throughout the show driving the beat onwards and upwards. Guitarist Sam Hugh-Jones demonstrates his versatility with power chords on ‘Survival’ and the deft use of harmonics on ‘Sorry’.
The set is a nice blend of old and new. ‘Monster’, composed a decade ago, sounds as fresh and relevant today as when it was first written, whilst ‘Ones and Zer0s’ shows the evolution of the band’s sound. The Elephant Trees are full of life and energy; they not only represent the next generation of great bands but also the power giving continuance of life.
On the drive home I reflected on the gig and its impact on the audience (Martha’s vocals on the finale of ‘Heroine’ led to a gasp of “Wow!” from a guy stood directly behind me). That takes me back to where I started, and the comparisons with Amy Winehouse. Perhaps, just like Amy, Martha is strong because she has flaws and wise because of her anxieties.
If you happen to be in Glasgow tomorrow, go check out The Elephant Trees at Broadcast on Sauchiehall Street (tickets available by clicking here). You won’t be sorry.