LIVE: Owen / Tangled Hair @ Old Blue Last, London [08/12/13]

By Ben Tipple

Neither Tangled Hair nor Owen are disguising the fact that today has been a long day. Following their show at the comparably nearby Fighting Cox in Kingston the previous night, both acts headed straight into a double-barrelled show, squeezing in a matinee performance after selling out the intimate venue this evening. Perhaps overtired, or perhaps already falling into the pace of the relaxed surroundings, for both tonight is awash with friendly banter and an unusually affectionate ambience.

Tangled Hair, while delivering their irregular time signature driven post-indie, spend moments speaking to their friends in the crowd. Potentially off-putting, their gentle humour entraps the remaining audience – so much so that few can deny their empathy when drummer James Trood explains his sluggishness following his indulgence in some chili-cheese fries. The friendly atmosphere compliments the music, as the complex melodies play as if to a living room full of mates. The sudden changes to a more minimalist melody are improved by the dedicated silence in the room.

Mike Kinsella is afforded a similar luxury as the majority of the songs are accompanied by stillness from the crowd. His determined interaction to avoid, in his words, a forgettable set, build upon the intimate atmosphere as he sings his way through the likes of ‘The Armoire’ and ‘Good Friends, Bad Habits’. The occasional mistake in his finger-picking, and his willingness to laugh them off, prove endearing while continuing the odd dynamic.

The flicker of distain as audience members abruptly shout requests is counteracted by conversations of Morrissey’s new book (no, I haven’t read it either), or the best place to buy a burger in Los Angeles. All the while the music and the performance become one – tonight is as much about being involved as it is watching.

Kinsella is clearly a veteran in his art, and his dogged nature means you can excuse the occasional mistake or song missed off the setlist. More evidently though, he probably doesn’t care if you don’t excuse it – as this is what he does, and you’re along for the ride.