AJ, Chess, Tara and Tim – AKA alt-country quartet The Wandering Hearts – have been on a meteoric rise over the last 12 months. Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album Wild Silence, the group have taken to the road for a short UK tour, culminating in a sell-out gig at London’s Bush Hall.
The band arrived on stage shortly after 9PM to a cheering crowd and launched into their song Fire And Water. The folk-influenced driving rhythm balanced really well with their gorgeous harmonies and I liked the fun twist that AJ’s yodelling added to the track. They then moved into Heartbreak Hotel, which brought out the soulfulness in AJ’s vocal and gave Tara a chance to show off her range as she hit some seriously big notes!
The set mainly focused on songs from Wild Silence, ranging from the bittersweet yet impossibly catchy Wish I Could to the simple and emotional If I Fall. What brought the whole thing together was the group’s perfect blend of vocals – there’s a lovely richness and quality about their four voices in unison, particularly when performing live. I also felt that AJ and Tara had some great solo moments – most notably the belt in AJ’s voice on Biting Through The Wires and Tara’s delicate vocal on the sparse Iona – but would have liked to see similar segments for Tim and Chess too.
One of the standout moments of the show for me was Burning Bridges. The band asked the audience to be quiet as they crowded round a microphone and sang backed by a gentle acoustic melody. Something about their four voices together is just utterly magical and I felt it worked really well in the intimate, softly lit venue. Other highlights included Wild Silence, where the stripped-back arrangement allowed the depth and sweetness of Tara’s voice to come through, and the darker, desolate Laid In The Ground with its haunting a capella section.
The band closed their set with the twangy Rattle, which had the audience clapping and dancing along. It’s a layered, complex song but the smoothness of their vocals brought it all together. They then returned for an encore of Change For The Good, which brought out the gravelly tones in AJ’s vocal and was packed with stark imagery, and Devil, which highlighted the depth and quality of their harmonies whilst providing an uptempo finish to the evening as the crowd sang with them.
Overall I really enjoyed the Wandering Hearts. They’re definitely one of those bands that you need to see live – their voices sound utterly fantastic in person and really brought out the timeless quality to their songs. I also felt that they’ve grown a lot as performers in the last year; they had a great energy on stage and were laughing and joking with each other in the manner of a band who’ve been together for decades. If they can keep delivering performances like this one then it won’t be long before they’re selling out even bigger venues.
Set list: 1. Fire And Water 2. Heartbreak Hotel 3. Wish I Could 4. If I Fall 5. Nobody’s Fool 6. Burning Bridges 7. Laid In The Ground 8. Wild Silence 9. Biting Through The Wires 10. Iona 11. Rattle 12. Change For The Good 13. Devil Performance date: Thursday 1st March 2018