Pond – Live @ Rough Trade East
aaamusic | On 19, Feb 2015
Tuesday 17th February, London
Those with more flexible schedules had it good yesterday. The morning sun came out and stayed with us throughout the day’s length, deciding against its usual escape into grey skies, yet Pond still managed to lure us back inside to enjoy a free lunchtime gig at Rough Trade East.
The boys are fresh off the release of their sixth LP, Man It Feels Like Space Again, a buzzing and tumbling trip showcasing a range of influences knitted together into an authentic sounding execution. Copies of the new record litter the counter tops to the side of the room while the crowd patiently waits by the stage for the 2pm start time. Punctual as ever, the unsullied band got on stage with innocent faces and friendly hello’s before kicking into the first song of the album, ‘Waiting Around For Grace’.
The song transitions from a hazy dreamlike intro into it’s catchier motif as initial excitement starts to churn amongst onlookers, heads begin to bob and voices start whooping as Pond warm up their performance chops again. This gig turns out to be the first of their tour for this album, making their live sound all the more impressive. One wouldn’t expect such a powerful and full sound to come out of a stage so humble, yet there we were listening to what sounded nearly identical to the album itself, yet better as it is pounded out more dynamically in front of our faces. The drums were EQ’d to perfection with the kick giving a dense and powerful beat to each and every groove. Jay Watson drums with a reliable touch, his playing is as consistent as a metronome and yet maintains a certain fluidity to match and balance the arrangements of the other three members that currently make up the groups shapeshifting line up.
Not a single beat is skipped when the first song ends as Pond dig straight into ‘Elvis’s Flaming Star’, keeping the momentum built up in the first song and kicking into a gear clearly constructed to get bodies moving. This being a lunchtime set in a record store, onlookers don’t delve into full-tilt boogie mode but there is enough life emanating from the crowd to make one excited by the thought of how happening the rest of this tour is set to be. Mid-set, they drop ‘Aloneaflameaflower’, a call back to their last LP, Hobo Rocket. Serene verses that transition into pounding moments of glory and a riff worth singing along to give somewhat of a counter balance to the set up to this point.
It’s notable how great the instruments come together here. All the more chaotic and experimental aspects of Space Again comes through convincingly; Joe Ryan’s more rhythmic parts compliment the drums as much as they are already flatter themselves with that perfect sound that is impossible to get over. Meanwhile, Jamie Terry fills the room with a buffet of synths and playful, watery extras that enhance all atmosphere’s from within the recordings to these live renditions of the songs. Frontman Nick Allbrook comes at all this with further complimentary parts but when looking upon him, he gives off an image of improvisation; it is as if he was writing his parts then and there, yet they seem to perfectly fit.
The music is great and the sound is perfect but Pond don’t leave this as the only thing to take away from their set. It’s the playful banter between songs that even leaks into the beginning of tunes at times that embellishes our congregation with comic vibes. The balance between laughter and pure enjoyment of music is crisp and each member seems to be enjoying themselves fully. Jamie enthusiastically poses for a picture taken by a fan in a gap between songs, Jay comments on how great the intro of a song is sounding and at one point the band can’t seem to decide whether or not their next tune is a new one or not. My personal favourite moment however has got to be was when Joe’s couldn’t help but implant soulful melisma’s into the songs, prompting Jay to ask for less of him in the monitors and comparing it to Beyonce singing the national anthem after taking 40 punches to the head. Closing in epic fashion with ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’, the set may have been relatively brief but it was worth every penny that it didn’t even cost to experience. What value!