Malthouse at The Exchange

Leah Hamer || March 11th

Rachel Ferguson is a timid beauty, with a striking voice moulded by tears of life-affirming experiences. There is a sense that with every lyric, Rachel is unpeeling a small fraction of her heart before our very eyes. Mother, Empire State of Mind, these harrowing tracks stay with you eternally. . She enforces silence within me, for the jingling of change or the clank of ice cubes in a glass are magnified in her presence. She smiles, opening a crumpled set list from her picket, before showing us her version of Van Morrison’s Crazy Love, an exemplary cover.

Teleporting The Exchange to the old South, Tom Lockett, brought a fresh, twist on a classic style to the evening. With a rusty red Epiphone shining in the green light he brings old-fashioned joy in a world of auto tune and editing. His twangy harmonica appears at intervals, truly thrusting us into another dimension. A charming character, when he asks the crowd if they’re having a good time, only to receive a series of grumbles in reply, he laughs ‘Fucking hell, what you out for?’ His narrative lyrics are reminiscent of fables and camp fire stories, leaving you warm and optimistic.

A three-pieced The Red Kites managed to hold their own despite the down-size, playing clean, stripped back chords, giving them a clear, clarified sound- allowing you to focus on the hoarse vocals. Midway through the changeover to a leading acoustic guitar added an entirely new level of volume- echoing around the room- before changing it back again to heavier electronic pleasure. Easy listening, casual on the ear, and as smooth as can be- The Red Kites always go down a treat.

Finally, the graceful headliners Malthouse, took to the stage with their sultry riffs and timeless style. Using a vintage style microphone, vocalist Kieran Oakes is a show stopper, incomparable to any other male vocalist in this vicinity. He laughs after the first song, ‘We’ll try to make this quick, so anyone who wants to watch the boxing can shoot off.’ Why you’d want to watch the match instead of Malthouse is unbeknown to me. Teamed with an army of fans, all attempting to replicate Kieran’s falsetto (and failing), the band created a sparky atmosphere and left everyone wanting more.