Originally conceived as a solo moniker for frontman and band principle Ben Schneider, Lord Huron – named after Lake Huron, one of the great lakes that provides a grand shoreline along Schneider’s home state of Michigan – evolved into their current four-piece formation as the 34-year-old filled out his live show setup. The now L.A.-based folk-rock/indie/Americana outfit received critical acclaim across their first two records via indie label IAMSOUND before jumping ship to major label Republic for this year’s Vide Noir.
And so, following a return to The Lexington earlier this year to celebrate the launch of their third record, Lord Huron return to North London to play their biggest UK show to date at London’s iconic Roundhouse venue.
The night is opened brilliantly by the shoegaze stylings and 1970’s attire of Argentine-born and London-raised Malena Zavala, definitely one to check out on her headline tour next spring. But it is the imminent arrival of quirky Schneider & co. that finally fills out the Roundhouse floor.
The first movement of Vide Noir two-parter Ancient Names kicks off proceedings, the six-strong live ensemble bathed in a mix of darkness and green hues setting the Emerald theme of the album as the fast-paced tune sees Schneider bound about the stage.
Meet Me In The Woods and The World Ender take us back to 2015’s Strange Tales as the eccentric frontman shares his best Father John Misty, a trilby hat spending equal time on his head and the stage.
Vide Noir tune Back From The Edge slows down proceedings before Schneider addresses his audience for the first time of the night: “It’s so good to be back in London, how’ve you been? This is a hell of place, good to see you all” he says. “I’m not gonna chat too much” he promises us before tearing into Lonesome Dreams cut Ends Of The Earth.
Following early ballad Ghosts On The Shore, a foot-stomping good time is had thanks to She Lit A Fire, the country-tinged harmonies leaving the Roundhouse abound with cheer at the true hoedown moment before the frontman abandons his guitar and roams the stage for 1950’s-styled Wait By The River.
Strange Trails cut Hurricane gives us another foot stomping moment before proceedings take a rockier turn by way of Vide Noir’s Never Ever. Secret Of Life is introduced as a song about black magic before bassist Miguel Briseño is brightly lit as he takes up position at a Theremin, adding spooky sounds to Way Out There. “I love watching him do that shit” Schneider chuckles, cooling his face with his hat.
Debut record tunes La Belle Fleur Sauvage and Fool For Love bring back the country harmonies and rhythm, a few at the back of the Roundhouse’s main space with space to move taking the opportunity to incorporate twists and turns into their dancing as the Michiganian frontman takes time out to toss flowers out to his audience.
The second movement of Ancient Names rounds out the main set with its fast-pace and rockier tone in stark contrast to the majority of tonight’s music. Even as the band depart, we know it won’t be too long before they return. “If it suits you, we’ll play a few more” Schneider says to cheers as he returns.
Biggest hit The Night We Met, familiar to consumers of hit U.S. TV shows such as The Affair, 13 Reasons Why and The Flash, opens the group’s three-strong encore. And while the sombre ballad gets the biggest cheer of the night, it is certainly not the crescendo. A cover of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is introduced by Schneider, before the night of music draws to a close with Lonesome Dreams song Time To Run.
Tonight, visitors of London’s Roundhouse, were taken on a two-hour escape from the increasingly chilly London to the sepia-tinged and earnestly melancholy Los Angeles of Ben Schneider’s Lord Huron. A land filled with heartbreak alongside celestial bodies in equal measures.
We were sad to learn that the frontman’s car was stolen last week while on tour but are quickly delighted to hear of its return today – sans licence plates but with a glass of wine added by the perpetrators. “So who wins, really?” the 34-year-old challenges. “When I get back home, I’m gonna drink the shit out of that wine!” And as the audience filter out of the former railway turntable engine shed, it’s hard not to feel uplifted by the experience.
Lord Huron round out their UK tour with stops in Sheffield, Gateshead and Liverpool before moving on to stops in Paris, Munich, Koln and Berlin.
Live review and photos of Lord Huron @ Roundhouse by Kalpesh Patel on 26th October 2018.