Far From Saints Are Transcendent At EartH

Kelly Jones clearly remembers the first time he saw Patty Lynn sing. It was about 10 years ago. Stereophonics are touring the US with their album Graffiti On The Train. The Wind and The Wave (Lynn and Dwight Baker), are the support act. Jones watches them from the side of the stage.

Far From Saints @ Hackney EarTH

Far From Saints
Far From Saints

“There are lots of people that can sing. There are lots of people who can hit those high notes, all that bullshit on the telly. But there aren’t many people who can move you when they sing, and I was moved by Patty’s voice,” Jones says from the stage at EartH in Hackney.

Fast-forward to 2019. The Wind and The Wave are on Jones’ solo tour. The three musicians team up for a cover of Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty’s Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around every night. And, as the tour progresses, they start writing songs together. By the end of the run, they’ve recorded an entire album in just nine days.

“Only took us four years to release it,” Jones deadpans tonight.

It’s been worth the wait. That album, the self-titled debut by Far From Saints out on 16 June, forms the backbone of a gig that’s full of joy, celebration, just a little heartache, and performers having so much fun it’s infectious.

As the trio, joined by four touring musicians including Stereophonics’ Richard Jones, present those songs written in backstage dressing rooms, hotels, and at soundchecks, they sound like they’ve played together for years. (To date, this band have only played six or seven gigs, including supporting Kings Of Leon at Wrexham AFC at the weekend.) This is clearly a genuine collaboration, their disparate backgrounds, influences, and personalities coming together around the wondrous vocal harmonies of Lynn and Jones. To put it plainly: these aren’t Stereophonics songs with an Americana twist, nor are they The Wind And The Wave songs with big rock guitars. These are Far From Saints songs. Like the trapeze artists on their album cover, the performers have taken a leap of faith and pulled off a breathtaking feat.

Far From Saints Hackney EarTH 050623-014

Kelly Jones of Far From Saints (Simon Reed)
Kelly Jones of Far From Saints (Simon Reed)

The EartH audience are appropriately loud and appreciative, which is impressive for two reasons: this is London (where the default disposition is “unimpressed”) and only three of these songs have actually been released. One of those, Screaming Hallelujah, starts the show with a strummed acoustic guitar and mellotron backing Jones’ vocal. As Lynn takes over on the second verse, a traditional folk stomp kicks in, and the song evolves into a warm, rich, optimistic duet that rises and falls in intensity. Faded Black Tattoo is moodier, the singers’ voices intertwining over a swampy groove and searing slide guitars.

Take It Through The Night, with Lynn on bluesy lead vocals as Jones harmonises, sounds similarly dark. But, thanks to the drums, it really swings. And, even more than the recorded version, my favourite of their already released songs evolves into a full blown Joe Walsh joins the Allman Brothers instrumental jam.

Despite a false start, Let’s Turn This Back Around gets the biggest response. More dynamic than the album version — the quiet bits where Jones sings along to Baker’s acoustic guitar are quieter; the rousing almost gospel choir part at the end is even more rousing — it prompts the loudest singalong and biggest cheers of the night.

One of the final songs written for the record, Gonna Find What’s Killing Me, is a lot more restrained, with Jones crooning over subtle organ swells and acoustic guitar strumming. When Lynn begins to harmonise, the rest of the band join in too and the track evolves into a lush, majestic, longing ballad before the song that started it all (Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around) gets the blood pumping once more. Jones, jamming on his guitar, and Lynn, dancing like she’s possessed by Stevie Nicks, are clearly having just as much fun as the crowd.

Far From Saints Hackney EarTH 050623-008

Far From Saints
Far From Saints

We Won’t Get Out Alive is another masterful slow one, characterised by slide guitar, Jones’ caramel vocal, and Lynn’s pronounced country twang. No Fool Like An Old Fool, introduced with perfect comic timing as a “song about a guy trying to get a girl… but he’s too old”, is a far quieter affair that uses a beautiful melody and those glorious voices, rather than lavish instrumentation, to sound hopelessly romantic. Let The Light Shine Over is a slow burner, complete with sumptuous string arrangement, that’s likely to get the mobile phones and lighters out when Far From Saints inevitably reach bigger venues.

And Southern rebel rocker The Ride (think Lynyrd Skynyrd meets ZZ Top) appears to have been written especially to close the main set, which it does tonight. It’s a massive song, written to fill stadiums, that transforms into an all-out rock ‘n roll hoedown. Think guitar, organ, and drum solos, more exuberant dancing, and smiles all round.

Cuts You Up, which eases us into the encore, begins as an ethereal a capella duet that flourishes into a tender, yearning ballad that’s all shuffle, slide guitar, and soaring voices. A spirited rendition of The RonettesBe My Baby, anchored by that unmistakable drum part, is an unexpected but very inspired choice that shows the breadth of Far From Saints’ inspirations.

Another gutsy all-singing all-dancing cover, Petty’s American Girl (seemingly in honour of Lynn), easily recaptures the all-out party mood of Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. It not only sends the audience home feeling giddy and thoroughly entertained, it embodies the Jones quote on the band’s socials: “We don’t exactly know where it’s going, but going there feels good.”

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Far From Saints release their self-titled debut album next week on 16th June and play London’s Lafayette on 12th June before moving on to Black Deer and Glastonbury Festivals later this month and Latitude in July among other live dates.

Review of Far From Saints at EartH on 5th June 2023 by Nils van der Linden. Photography by Simon Reed.

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