Live Review: The Collier + Matilda Eyre at Notting Hill Arts Club

The short flight of stairs that takes you into the main room of the Notting Hill Arts Club was a welcome sight on the blustering Sunday night I went to see The Collier. The much discussed four-piece, described by BBC Introducing as ‘blistering’ had been a staple of my playlist the week past. Naturally, I was keen to put a face upon the musicians behind the devastating ‘Brother’. Having dodged levitating coke cans and seemingly sentient plastic bags on my way here I felt lucky to still be dry. Ushered in by the stocky security guards, my companion and I made our way downstairs and through the double doors. For what is most usually considered a day of rest the Arts Club was wonderfully alive. For the patrons it seemed Monday had not even crossed their minds. The soft thud of background music hinted that a concert was to take place but without a band on stage the bodies took to conversation. Whilst upstairs and outside people made their way home, inside here the night was just about to start.

A soft ‘good evening’ was all it took to get the people towards the stage. Up beneath the bright lights stood Matilda Eyre, the ‘eerie sorceress with a love for electro, samples and beats.’ A competent set followed, with hints of Alt-J reverberating beneath her bold voice. Songs of deep despair seem to hide between the cinematic 808s that backed her tender piano playing. On the song ‘Father’ her words were bold and yet they struggled somewhat to pierce the Sunday night entirely. At the set’s conclusion, she thanked us, inviting us all to say hello later. As the applause died away, the talk turned to the evening’s main draw and a few of us skipped off to the bar to ensure we were suitably lubricated by the time The Collier took to the stage.

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The Collier sound to me like Parachutes-era Coldplay, which I mean as a compliment, lest you start to make assumptions. The music seems to sit just on the verge of great exultation without ever losing its sense of melody. The band performed their songs with a clear honesty and power that made the set visually captivating. I couldn’t help but feel for frontman Joshua Hixson, who made the simple mistake of wearing a jumper. This lead to a rather liquid performance that seemed to cause him a touch of distress, but he handled it in the way all good performers do – he just cracked on.

‘Brother’ is clearly their most accomplished track. It stood out from the others quite clearly and is likely the track they are proudest of. It has that resonance that great songs tend to have – you feel as though it has always been with you. The Collier’s drummer carried the band masterfully, with his intricate playing and pertinent rhythms acting as the beating heart of this post-rock act. Set closer ‘Easy to Love’ nearly perforated eardrums, such was the power of his snare-rolls. There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing a drummer go wild on his kit and the Collier certainly delivered.

In essence, this felt like a set that will carry The Collier onto bigger and better things. Their look is solid and their sound is powerful. They play well and they endeared themselves to the Sunday night crowd, who all left with their heads nodding. Catch them soon or rue the day you missed them.

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Review and Photography by Alexander Sarychkin: twitter.com/inalexworld

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