Review: Two Gallants at Hoxton Bar

After a two year hiatus, involving two separate solo albums, a bike accident, and a career-threatening car crash, there was certainly a feeling amongst the packed crowd at Hoxton Bar that we were lucky to be witnessing Two Gallants’ return to the road. Tonight’s gig was the second consecutive sold-out night at the venue, and its intimate setting enhanced this atmosphere of expectation, which was not to be disappointed.

Two Gallants are a two-piece made up of childhood friends Adam Stephens (vocals/guitar/harmonica) and Tyson Vogel (drums/vocals), who play an original, punk- tinged blend of blues and folk. The first thing that hit me when they started playing is just how much noise it is possible for two men and their instruments to make. The second thing was quite how brilliant they are at playing them, with Stephens’ intricate finger picking weaving perfectly around Vogel’s powerful, almost melodic, drumming. It really isn’t surprising to find out that these two have been playing music together since the age of twelve.

The set included songs from all four of their releases, as well as plenty of new material, which went down almost as well as old favourites, something not many bands pull off.  The intensity and emotion powering the whole gig suited the lyrics of many of their songs, which range from tales of heartbreak to narratives about murder and slavery. Whether playing louder numbers such as ‘Las Cruces Jail’ or sharing the microphone for the new, acoustic ‘Broken Eyes’, both were clearly putting everything they had into their performance, demonstrated both by the amount of sweat pouring off them and the way Vogel occasionally collapsed over his drums at the end of a song. The passion and honesty displayed in the performance led to slightly awkward silences as the crowd waited for Stephens to retune his guitar in between songs, but idle chit-chat might have felt anticlimactic in these moments.  Instead, I happily settled for watching a strange love-triangle developing in the second row.

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Two Gallants are a band I’d wanted to see for years, and as they finished with a drum-less rendition of ‘Seems Like Home to Me’, my only complaint was that it had to end so soon (but not as early as it did for the jilted boyfriend in the second row, who’d already stormed off). If you don’t know this band, take a punt on iTunes or YouTube, but if you ever get the chance, go and see them perform, where the songs can really come to life.