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REVIEW: Dry The River Review @ Northumbria University

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Dry The River

It’s been a long while since Dry The River graced the North East with their heavenly three-piece harmonies and wild crescendos. But, last Thursday night, not long after the release of their second album Alarms In The Heart, the time finally came for their return.

As Northumbria Uni’s Stage 2 room slowly filled, the first support band Para Alta took to the stage followed closely by up-and-coming indie four-piece, Gengahr. Their cool sound, complete with crystal clear falsettos and hazy hooks, proved to be the perfect warm-up for Dry The River.

The room broke into applause as the band finally sauntered on-stage before a drape displaying ancient creatures, and launched into new anthemic track, Hidden Hand. The opening of heavy chords and a soaring lead guitar was somewhat reminiscent of current Kings Of Leon. And then we heard it – Peter Liddle’s beautiful, unmistakable vocal. He stood barefoot on a Persian rug as he sang, dressed all in white, gazing around the intimate venue with an endearing shyness in his eyes. There was no barrier at this gig and it gave a significantly more personal ambience than your average show.

While the audience seemed to love the alt-indie/rock sound of this newer material, old favourite New Ceremony received a particularly warm welcome. Soft acoustic picking accompanied by a deep, fuzzy bass sequence rang through the room and the crowd were mesmerised.

The band seemed close and humble, joking with each other, stopping for quick chats between songs and thanking the fans for “not forgetting about them”. It’s always nice to see a gig with so much passion – the venue was full to the brim of fans who clearly worshipped Dry The River.

The rest of the set brought a range of sensations, with heartfelt ballads like Bible Belt and Gethsemane to gritty, exciting tracks with epic finales like Rollerskate and Lion’s Den. The build-up of these songs was encapsulating – they started delicately and grew into a blur of crashing drums, impressive hair-whipping and boundless vocals. Each minute of performance had this raw emotion that’s unlike any other band I’ve seen.

After stunning, stripped-back renditions of History Book and Shaker Hymns, the night came to a grand close with Weights and Measures. Half of the crowd were singing their hearts out and the other half watched in awe. It was an amazing finish to a wonderful night.

The first time I heard Alarms In The Heart, I noticed an obvious change from the traditional folky sound of Dry The River’s debut, Shallow Bed, and wondered how well it would be received. This comeback tour, however, has proved that the new album, along with their exceptional live performance, sees Dry The River evolving into a stronger, more versatile and gifted band than ever before.

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