Review: Vaults @ Deaf Institute

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Elizabeth Vince opened up the night, armed with nothing more than her keyboard and computer samples. Her isolated role on stage, playing to a half empty crowd, meant that Vince’s presence on stage felt awkward at times; her unsupported dancing bordering on cringe-worthy. She lacked the confidence to give off the powerful aura her songs required and ultimately it detracts from the music. She also suffered from a lack of other instruments; her music lacked the rhythm and ingenuity that defines the best electronic music.  Her performance is undoubtedly rescued by her voice, powerful and awe-inspiring; it’s difficult to not be impressed by that alone. Her set was ultimately just frustrating – undoubted talent and songs that narrowly miss what they’re attempting to be.

Vaults delivered an emotionally charged, beautifully choreographed performance at the Deaf Institute in Manchester. Complete with keyboards, complex percussion instruments, and computer samples, the band breathed through their set, the enclosed and atmospheric venue providing a reflective tone for the performance. Performing songs from their Vultures EP and from their forthcoming debut album, the audience hung on every word, completely enthralled by band on stage. Something which undoubtedly detracts from the bands performance is the lack of opportunities for audience involvement; the songs are epic, yet the rhythm remains low key and slow, so that most people watch on still and silent. Similarly, while the songs are beautiful, they lack the catchiness and the unforgettable nature of the heavyweights of modern electricronica, such as Alt-j and Golden Panda (who the band cite as a heavy influence).

The defining point of the bands performance is lead singer, Blythe. Dressed in a Lady Gaga-esque glittery jumpsuit, resembling a cross between futuristic body armour and the ostentatiously large disco ball hanging from the ceiling, her performance brought an emotional drama and sense of tension to the songs; something Vaults needed. The almost ethereal vocals, accompanied by the musical backing of Barney and Ben, strike hard at the audience, immerse them in the story the band try and convey. Whereas Vince’s dancing felt awkward and unnatural, with the backing of a strong rhythm section and evocative lighting, Blythe’s movements work with the songs. The highlight comes at the end of the performance, with two songs that demonstrate the huge talent of the band on stage, Vultures and Mend This Love. This is the band’s zenith; Blythe’s vocal precision is beautifully executed, underlined by a powerful song structure and explosive rhythm; the result is awe-inspiring.

Overall a captivating performance from a young band, whose song writing and performances will undoubtedly develop and progress. With electronic music becoming more influential on the modern music scene, success for Vaults is inevitable.

Jamie also got to interview the band – click here to see what they had to say.