Tall Ships open to the steady beat of T=0, the lead track and lead single from their album, made dancy by the inclusion of tambourine played by Matt Parker at the same time as his bass. This dance sensibility is when Tall Ships are at their best. This is quantified by the cheers funky groover Chemistry gets. Besides the fantastic Vessels it is one of their best numbers and sounds like Data Select Party delving into prog more than their sharp pop sensibilities would ever allow.
Guitarist/singer Ric Pheaton's long blonde hair bares close resemblance to Jo Prendergast the guitarist/singer from Tubelord, who are in part to thank for Tall Ships existence. It was the promise of a support slot with Tubelord that inspired this triplet to get together in the first place, and their keys player James Elliot Field who recorded and produced their debut record Everything Touching that saw its release last week.
Ric Phetean dedicates new single Gallop to some kids who couldn't get in because of the age restriction on tonight's show. Which proves a nice touch, as he describes it as "a song about getting old". The galloping drums, from which you would presume the title is taken, are right at the forefront for the live experience of this song, which suffers from a broken guitar string. This acts as a fallen hurdle and it leaves the rhythm section to drag them through to the end. Snævar from touring partners Dad Rocks! sorts a grateful Pheaton out with new strings in time for the next song.
Ode To Ancestors starts with just vocals and keys then just bass and vocals, which the audience take the lead on, before the beat kicks in prompting a bit of a boogie and some clapping. Tall ships' keys would sound at home in an old school video game starring knights exploring castles. The vocals are repeated, recorded and looped so that by the end of the song, they are layered so densely it almost sounds like a choir!
Whilst doubling the vocals up with a loop pedal is undeniably powerful, all the looping, which is the stand out characteristic of this band, limits the capacity of their songs to change. It closes off avenues where the songs can go with an inability to change tempo or time signature. Oscar named after a friends new born son is actually most powerful when the line "I'll love you more than you know" is wailed on its own without any harmonies provided with the aid of looping technology. So in a way, what I would describe as their USP is both their stronghold and their downfall.
They finish with a rendition of Murmerations which with its long slow build and helicopter radar dance beat sounds like 65daysofstatic's dancier material (see Tiger Girl). Either that or the sound of bubbles floating up to the ceiling, if that was to ever have a sound. This headline performance at A Carefully Planned Festival should help to ensure that Tall Ships continue to rise.