LIVE: Heart In Hand, Demoraliser @ The Black Heart, London

By Chris Marshman

People might think that as a general rule, the bigger the band, the better they are and the better they are, the bigger the crowd they draw. Perhaps there’s some truth in that, but occasionally, there are a few glaring exceptions. Heart In Hand’s headline show at Our Black Heart in Camden, London was one of them. Despite the recent success of their modestly-titled album Almost There, tonight saw a turnout of barely 50 people — but at least those that did witnessed a typically brilliant live performance.

Promoted to Main Support for this evening’s show were up-and-coming Hardcore mob Demoraliser, who made the best of the pitiful turn out. With hardly any room to move on the stage, vocalist Dexter spent the majority of the set parading through the static crowd, attempting to churn up some movement. But unfortunately, the biggest cheer came as bassist James Raisbeck sarcastically explained “We’ve usually got two guitars playing as well, not just bass”, in response to technical issues that halted the band mid-song.

Heart In Hand really took advantage of the intimate crowd, by stripping back their production and adding some refreshing reality into their performance. A simple “Hi, we’re Heart In Hand” separated the soundcheck from the opening song – ‘Home/Sick’, as they burst straight into it with no intro-music or tension-building light show.

A short, but concise set followed, which showcased an array of tracks from the new ‘Cuts and Bruises’ to the older ‘Threefifteen’. Despite leaving fan-favourite ‘Only Memories’ to have the last word, it was the guest vocal appearance from Demoraliser’s Dexter on ‘Broken Lights’ – who filled the boots of Bury Tomorrow’s Dani Winter-Bates – that produced the highlight of the set, as their casual approach to it created a personal and almost session-like atmosphere that could never have been achieved in a larger venue.

The performances from both Heart In Hand and Demoraliser deserved to be enjoyed by far more people, but those that were there will know that it won’t happen like this again. It was a chance to see Heart In Hand at their most exposed, and plenty missed out on the opportunity. Their next set of shows will be bigger, but not necessarily any better.