Cloud Control @ Scala, 12th October 2011

It was clear from the outset that this wasn’t going to be the folk-speckled love-fest I thought it would be. In fact, Cloud Control’s gig at Scala showed them in a whole new light. It revealed their dark side: seductive, compelling, arcane – and utterly unexpected.

Before the start of the gig, the stage was a haze of red. As the lights changed four dark figures emerged, pulsing with charisma. Frontman Alister Wright stood hooded and brooding while keyboardist Heidi Lenffer slinked silently into place. Given that Bliss Release is essentially the soundtrack to a woodland jaunt on a sun-dappled day, this couldn’t have been further from what I’d expected.

The Aussie quartet open with Meditation Song #2: a beautiful a-capella start that churns waves of enthusiasm through the room. But as the tambourine of Gold Canary becomes the beat under Alister’s spoken poetry; as There’s Nothing in the Water takes on a frantic tone; as the lyrics of Ghost Story are chanted beneath a single spotlight, something darker seems to rear its head.

The band themselves are mesmerising. While Alister stands rigidly, facing the crowd with a drugged-up-rockstar stare, Heidi sways, swinging her hair hypnotically. The disparity between the two is brilliant: it lends their songs a sense of unhingedness, a wide-eyed exhilaration that stays with you for days afterwards.

The final encore, a sunny cover of There She Goes, released so much tension that the crowd exhaled as one. From the vantage point of the stairs, looking out over the main floor, this decompression was striking. The sight 200 people sinking simultaneously was testament to the band’s power.

Despite their flaws, despite the vague feel of hipsterism, despite their slightly derivative influences, the sheer genius of this gig – note-perfect, intense, enthralling – puts Cloud Control way beyond reproach. This is a band who know darkness – and know how to use it.

Published by Francesca Baker

Passionate about music, the world, exploring, literature and smiling. Writing, marketing and events for all my favourite things.

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