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Messenger, live in London

Live Review

Venue: Borderline, London

Support: The Frisbys

There's something seethingly charismatic about Messenger that needs concentration. Not just from the band, but also from the audience. And it's the latter disappointment that makes tonight slightly less than the triumph it should have bern. Slightly less than it most certainly is musically.

The problem is that many of the audience engage in ongoing chatter, and with the quiet passages here being so crucial they are often overwhelmed by the human interactions across the club. 

However, once you get past the irritating background noise, this band are special. They have the ability to strain so many influences through a contemporary gauze, in the process giving each passage of music – it seems churlish to call these 'songs' –  a sense of belonging to an overall symphony of modern sounds and sights.

With a mysterious film playing on a background screen, Messenger give the impression of jamming out a soundtrack on the spot. It has a spontaneity that few young bands can hope to achieve so early in their career.

You can certainly hear hints of Opeth, Anathema and Mastodon in the way they construct their style. But mostly it seems as if you are being transported back to the West Coast of America in 1967, when the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Love were making their impact. They also have a little of the early 80s Pink Floyd branding, plus vocal harmonies that show a reverence for The Byrds.

It's this amalgam of folk, psych and metal (albeit on the lightest side of the last) that makes Messenger uniquer. For all the above inspirations, they stand alone. There's an intensity to the misleadingly somnambulant The Perpetual Glow Of A Setting Sun, or Midnight. And this is heightened by the way in which the five talents onstage are prepared to make even the most complex ideas accessible. 

Messenger are actually a band who are probably best enjoyed while high. But that doesn't mean you have to drop acid to appreciate them. The adrenaline flow from the sight and sound of a busy band orchestrating hymns to the tone and atonality of everyday life is uplifting enough. They just have to play in front of people who stay quiet. 

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