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Review: Dry The River, Fibbers

Dry The River bassist Scott Miller.

On Sunday night, Dry The River baptised new Fibbers in style at the first of many gigs at the sort- of new York venue.

Dry The River bassist Scott Miller.
Dry The River bassist Scott Miller.

Having moved up-town and taken the place of nightclub Tokyo, Fibbers has taken on a slightly homelier environment. The interior boasts a cosy, woody wall and red brickwork; the increased space and elevated sections at the side make this an ideal spot for a gig.

After playing at old Fibbers a couple of years ago, folk-rock outfit Dry The River’s second coming seemed to be widely anticipated, as a large crowd gathered to witness one of the biggest bands to play in York in the last couple of years. Supporting them were the excellent Gengarh, whose slick art-rock settled down the audience into a state of impressed silence. Final track “Powder” was the best example of their blend of catchy hooks and indie flamboyance.

“The frailty of Peter Liddle’s tone is quite possibly Dry The River’s greatest asset.”

Linking Dry The River’s musical and lyrical content to religion does not take a great deal of analysis – song titles such as “Bible Belt” and “Gethsemane” tell you much of what you need to know. Therefore, the accompanying ethereal hum to the London-based band taking the stage was nothing so much as obligatory. The sight of lead singer Peter Liddle sporting the appropriate long hair and beard, clad in white shirt and trousers and, to cap it all, walking barefoot across the stage was almost parodical, no matter how effortlessly he pulled it off. Then he started to sing.

The frailty of Liddle’s tone is quite possibly Dry The River’s greatest asset, but hearing him sing live highlights the power he possesses. First song “New Ceremony” had audiences struck dumb from the off; like many of the band’s songs, it sounds like true euphoria, with Liddle providing the soaring fanfare that momentarily stopped watches and held people to their places. He would later admit to having flu, putting his performance in even clearer perspective.

Since the release of new album Alarms In The Heart, the band have had to contend with the loss of violinist Will Harvey. As a result, the newer material has lost a little of the folk connection of previous album Shallow Bed. However, songs such as “Gethsemane” still gripped and coursed through people watching, with anthemic gestures unique to Dry The River. Elsewhere, fan favourite “Bible Belt” rung out with resonance, sounding nostalgic even to first-time listeners.

Whilst the audience received the new songs with warm enthusiasm, there was a distinct change of gear when final track “No Rest” threw itself at the crowd. It’s unashamed, loud and passionate, the ultimate song for people to join in with, which they did with gusto. It’s here that Liddle’s ability to shift from despairing vulnerability to angered lover is most evident, and the temptation to join in with the wailing lyric “I loved you in the best way possible” is almost overwhelming.

Before shutting up shop, Liddle and co. had one last showstopper to shake the roof of Fibbers. After a stripped back encore, the blast of “Weights and Measures” seemed to envelop the entire room, a fitting ending to a celestial night.