Meadowlark | The Waiting Room | 27 September 2016
Photo credit: facebook.com/meadowlarkofficial
Synths and female vocals are a classic combination – but not a guaranteed success. If the music’s too icy, you risk alienating the audience; too sunny, you’re Yazoo with an extra side of cheese.
Meadowlark get the balance right. Across a series of singles and EPs released over the past 12 months, the Bristol duo have honed a sound that perfectly matches the warmth and humanity of an impassioned voice with the precision of electronic textures. And live on stage, that effect’s only amplified.
So even though Kate McGill and Daniel Broadley spend much of the performance behind keyboards, almost side-on to the audience, their songs form a powerful bond with the crowd. Never is this more apparent than during set closer, ‘Fly’. Performed acoustically, sans beats, the stripped-down piano ballad quite literally soars as the Waiting Room collective join in for an emotional mass singalong.
But that connection’s right there from the start. The woozy current single ‘Headlights’, boasting a dreamy vocal from McGill and subtle beats from Broadley, is the perfect introduction to their powerful melodies and piercing lyrics, which are sublimely represented on ‘Quicksand’. Inspired by the tragic story of a Pakistani man enslaved by debt, McGill tells us, it’s beautiful but despairing – and impossibly moving. Lyrically ‘Satellite’ is less heartbreaking, but its fragile tenderness is no less engaging.
Brand-new song ‘Postcards’ (big piano chords, delicate vocals) sparkles, before the glorious ‘Eyes Wide’ brings out the sun, as the musicians multitask effortlessly on stage. Thanks to lyrics like “we climb the highest high” and an irrepressible chorus, the shimmering ‘Paraffin’ is almost as uplifting, but the ethereal ‘Fly’ – with the impromptu backing choir singing “Won’t you fly with me?” – remains the undoubted highlight tonight, and a fittingly touching finale.