Just plain fun. If I could get away with writing a three-word review, that would perfectly encapsulate my experience of Pierce Brothers at The Orchard on Sunday. The folk duo blew me away with their creative mix of didgeridoo, split drum kit and dreadlocks that left me doing anything but dreading what was to come. Support act These Winter Nights were the perfect accompaniment, like a fine red wine with aged cheddar. The rain may not have held off until night’s end, but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the listeners.
Pierce Brothers had some of the most energetic audience interaction I have ever seen. When Jack leapt into the crowd, greeting them like a messiah, brother Pat kept up the amorous momentum onstage. It was gleefully obvious that they were having just as much fun as those around them. Didgeridoo bellows added heartily to the experience, rather than feeling shoehorned in, while impromptu drumming on both a footstool and guitar kept things fresh. Much like a carrot in the fruit and veg section of your local supermarket.
These Winter Nights just about lived up to their name, as the sky darkened and the heavens opened up. Providing mellow, sombre tunes to accompany the dank weather, lead singer Lucas Jones’ bitter tones were matched by his bandmate’s stellar backing vocals. It was a performance that was easy to lose yourself in, as the layered soundscape of keyboards meshed with consistent, driving guitar in Hearts on Fire. You can really feel the pain as Jones sings “I know when we were lovers/And we were dreamers/I know she had another” during Hearts on Fire, as the band kicks things up a notch for a cataclysmic outro that burned through the oppressive weather.
The trend of deeply personal songs continued when Pierce Brothers took to the stage. Songs they had written for their older brother with depression and sister with cancer gave a sizeable weight to the performance, although the brothers’ infectious optimism allowed the audience to rally alongside them rather than being consumed in sadness. The best way I can describe their artful performance is John Butler and Mumford and Sons thrown in a blender, their nutrients extracted and activated in beautiful chaos. Didgeridoo virtuoso Jack would often take time out to smash out a rhythm on Pat’s guitar, the latter continuing to play effortlessly. It was a unique and charming touch that featured in a fair few of their tracks. A cover of The John Butler Trio’s Ocean showed the duo’s sensational guitar work (even if they lacked Butler’s “36 fingers”, as Pat would tell it).
The cheeky antics of the brothers were a highlight, the most notable instance being when Pat would put a harmonica to the guitar-playing Jack’s mouth while simultaneously playing the drums. They were as fun to watch as they were to listen to, their carefree attitude rubbing off on the audience. The incorporation of harmonica didgeridoo, and as a variety of drums alongside their soulful voices and heartfelt lyrics allowed the Pierce Brothers create a breathtaking and engaging atmosphere. It was a performance that pierced both my heart and the heavens, that, when combined with top-notch crowd engagement, was the delectable icing on the cake that melted in the summer rain.