Kyla La Grange @ The Hope

Communion nights are always such fun. Gig nights are a dime a dozen, but consistently good ones are far rarer. Communion which as you probably know was now was cofounded by Mumford & Sons Ben Lovett has since its beginnings been at the forefront of the new – or should it be nu? – folk scene that’s spread from West London through the rest of the UK. With nights all over the UK, and even in the USA, it’s with some confidence that you know the music will be on point every time.

 This one however differed slightly with moody songstress Kyla La Grange taking taking the headline slot after having to unfortunately postpone her last Brighton date of 2011. That said, the other acts more than held their own against her oft raved about live performances. The night began with some piano accompanied balladry from Brighton’s own Paul Diello. Calm, collected and mournful, there was no denying the man’s talent, but the performance did jar with the other acts ahead, enjoyable though.

USA based Gabriel & The Hounds took the stage next, though it was more ‘Gabriel & The Hound’ with only himself and loyal drummer onstage. Like a distilled version of Communion’s nights, any act recently signed to their small but perfectly formed record label is more than your average listen. Personal but cheerful, gruff yet refined, the audience were given an insight into front man Gabriel Levine. So much so that he openly questioned how it felt to listen to ‘tracks so personal I only ever played them to myself’. From the applause he received, it looked like most enjoyed the experience. It was just a pity that due to others shows on that night, the turnout didn’t match the quality on show. Nevertheless, intimate crowds breed intimate performances, which was most certainly the case here. Native Roses took the final support, their folky charm providing a brilliant transition to the witchy atmosphere of Kyla La Grange’s set. The former band of pop upstart Birdy, famous or infamous, for her rendition (or mutilation) of Bon Iver’s legendary Skinny Love. Not that this had any real influence on Native Roses stirring set, all Harmonica, group harmonies and oomph. Tracks Out Of The Water and Reconciler’s Hymn providing the racier side to their folky leanings, and the energy enough to really separate them from the pack. Like a young Decembrists, just with less songs about infanticide, no bad thing in my book.

The audience may have been treated before, but Kyla La Grange still stole the show. It’s little wonder that she’s been pipped for big things, and with the likes of Zola Jesus, Anna Calvi and even Lana Del Ray paving the way, it’s not hard to see how. Opening with recent single Been Better, her chilling vocals pierced through warmth of the evening. A declaration of intent and regret, powerful and brilliant. Soon to be released single Vampire Smile also took people’s breath away, all forlorn howls and flickering guitars. It wasn’t all dark and dramatic though, in a charming moment of indecision the crowd were asked whether they’d prefer the ‘lonely’ one or the ‘upbeat one’, although of course, the resounding cheer of ‘Both!’ answered the question. Even then though there was some flexibility, her brilliant Walk Through Walls was also requested, getting the whole band laughing to everyone’s confusion. Apparently Kyla no longer ‘liked that one’. Ever the performer though a rousing rendition had everyone disagreeing. Even she admitted that ‘it wasn’t as bad as I thought’. It certainly wasn’t. The night ended suitably on single Heavy Stone, a haunting step back into the fanciful worlds created by the dramatic songstress. One final peek through the looking glass before the night faded to an end. Another Communion, another success.

Check out some Kyla La Grange below.

Kyla La Grange  –  Been Better

Kyla La Grange  –  Vampire Smile