hannah 254


The Haunt, Brighton – 4th November 2012

The last time we visited The Haunt in Pool Valley, it was bursting at the seams as Palma Violets and Savages lit up the Brighton evening. Our visit the previous weekend had seen The Coalition rammed to the rafters as Toy rumbled into town. It came as a bit of a shock, then, to find that 2:54 had not captured the hearts and imaginations of the people of Sussex in the same way, as the venue remained stubbornly under-populated throughout the evening, which made it easy to wander right up to the stage to get a great view of the band, but left you wondering what exactly 2:54 are doing wrong. OK, this is one town in a large country, and maybe 2:54 have been packing them in at other venues, but Brighton remains one of the great centres for music in the south-east and it must be a worry for the band who have a major label deal and have just released a very fine, if a little overpolished, debut album.

The missing numbers were certainly missing out. We had wondered how the album would translate into live performance and it turned out to be very well indeed. Rubbing a little sheen off the tracks does them no end of good, leading to a slower, more intense experience and there is certainly a power in the music that complements its unquestioned style. Opening with 'Circuitry' we are treated to eight tracks from the debut album (with only 'Watcher' and 'Ride' omitted) with the bonus of first single 'On A Wire', the 'Scarlet' b-side 'Got A Hold' and a cover of Adamski's 'Killer' which also appears on the b-side of the limited tour seven-inch single of 'Sugar'. There aren't many misses; 'Salute' emerges as the least convincing in a live setting, though this is more than compensated for by 'You're Early' which sounds immense.

Hannah and Colette Thurlow look immaculate, head to toe in black with great shoes (and that's important), fitting perfectly into the image the band is at pains to present: there is astonishing attention to detail in both the tunes they write and the artwork they use. Hannah appears the most at ease, never still, sweeping elegantly backwards from her raft of effects pedals, to crouch low before retracing her steps to the front of the stage. Colette seems less sure of herself, occasionally wandering over to her sister as if for reassurance, but her vocals never falter and gain more bite as the set draws on. Surprisingly, when so much else is right, their bassist emerges in half a beard and a grey hoodie which doesn't exactly fit the mood, and the lightshow is horrific. The line of horizontal white lights behind Colette serves neither to illuminate nor dazzle, succeeding only in making the drummer invisible, and the band ask for the sidelights to be turned down. It's not great.

No two songs run into each other and the gaps between them are lengthy. Colette doesn't say much but there isn't a deliberate, blank silence and occasionally the wait becomes awkward; Hannah appears to mime half of the next song before it finally begins. So, while the bands have the same reference points, 2:54 never manage to achieve the same powerful visual and aural impact of Savages whose live outings are like a hammer blow, cascades of white light ripping through the darkness to reveal them in their stark, naked ferocity. You get the feeling the Thurlows are just too nice to be that menacing. But these are only minor gripes and some determined work will soon iron out the creases. 2:54 have already shown they can learn from the best. Let's hope they continue to absorb.


More Live Reviews

2:54 Album Review

Photo: Gary Packham

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