LIVE: Emma Ruth Rundle / Darkher / Jaye Jayle @ The Lexington, London

By Glen Bushell

The last time Emma Ruth Rundle was in town was for a brief opening slot to Wovenhand. That show was proof how far Rundle’s music has reached, given the adoration from the crowd that is rarely shown for a support act. Six months later, Rundle has returned to London for a one-off, sold out show, and her first headline show in the UK.

Jaye Jayle opens things up, which is fitting given the recent split they released alongside Rundle, and they get things off to a gloriously gloomy start. The dusty, deserted plains that Jaye Jayle travel with their music is carried by Evan Patterson’s southern drawl. Blues infused guitar licks weave through their dark and smoky haze, with nods towards the repetition of krautrock and the sinister side of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It’s intoxicating until the very last notes ring out.

From there, Darkher cast an enchanting spell on the audience, which by this point have filled every inch of The Lexington. Jayn H Wissenberg’s voice is equal parts haunting and beautiful, as the soundtrack beneath moves between a dissonant drone and glittering gothic rock. It is pure melancholy for the duration of Darkher’s set, with little respite from the intensity they produce on stage, but an ethereal trip that leaves a lasting impression.

When Emma Ruth Rundle takes the stage, she is at first armed with just an acoustic guitar. Visibly moved by the packed crowd, Rundle expresses her love for England at numerous intervals during the set in a very personal way. It is reciprocated by the dead silent audience, allowing ‘Arms I know So Well’ to reverberate around the room. You could hear a pin drop, and all eyes and ears are fixed forward.

Rundle is then joined by her backing band, which tonight is comprised of members of Jaye Jayle. It gives ‘Run Forever’, ‘Marked For Death’, and ‘Protection’ the same power as on record and then some. Rundle’s voice is note-perfect, breaking through the wall of guitars that wax and wane over the thunderous rhythm section. It is a sound made for larger rooms than tonight, particularly the towering rendition of ‘Hand Of God’.

Rather than go through the motions of walking off stage and returning for an encore, the band departs, leaving Rundle to an acoustic version of ‘Shadows Of My Name’. She then goes fully unplugged for a stripped back run through ‘Real Big Sky’, filled with raw emotion. It marks the end of the set, and a performance that shows Emma Ruth Rundle is one of the great songwriters of our generation.