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Gig Review: Gallows Ghost

Gig Review: Gallows Ghost

By: Anna Hall

‘You hold me like an enemy’ sings Kate Young in her sultry, haunting voice. It’s only two songs into the set but everybody is already in love with Kate, lead singer of six-piece band Gallows Ghost. The striking, former Vivienne Westwood model is driving the crowd into a trance-like frenzy with her dark lyrics rising atop throbbing beats.

‘You hold me like an enemy’ sings Kate Young in her sultry, haunting voice. It’s only two songs into the set but everybody is already in love with Kate, lead singer of six-piece band Gallows Ghost. The striking, former Vivienne Westwood model is driving the crowd into a trance-like frenzy with her dark lyrics rising atop throbbing beats.

Gallows Ghost celebrated their new EP Arrows on February 25th with a standout launch party gig at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. The stage was framed with ‘dead flower balloons’; a unique prop that looks like it was plucked straight from the set of Lord of the Rings. And with Kate’s flowing hair, metallic painted stomach, and stunning amber eyes framed by silver glitter, she may as well be a medieval princess imported to an East London stage.

Gallows Ghost does indeed pick up sounds of an ancient land; their tracks are mystical and melancholy but also weave in 21st century technology with interesting synth and bass textures. Throughout the night, Gallows Ghost played the three tracks from their new EP: Arrows, The Void, and Stealth, all of which radiate bold rhythms and rich vocals. The Void is their catchiest song, but Arrows and Stealth are seductive and edgy, oozing images of Gothic literature, Romantic landscape, and exotic worlds.

The band formed less than two years ago but the band already has the press hooked- no one can quite pin their sound down. They’ve got the musical variety of Arcade Fire and the electronica of Alt-J. Many have likened Kate to Florence Welch, but after their fiery hair and brassy pipes the comparison ends. We can’t quite put Gallows Ghost into a box but that’s part of their charm. The band recognises and respects their influences, including Massive Attack and London Grammar, but they are undoubtedly original. Their gigs may be one of the few places where you can rave like mad while a cello is playing in the background.

Singer-songwriter Stephanie O’Brien opened up the Hoxton Square show with a solo set, warming up the crowd with her gorgeous voice and emotionally raw music. She weaves in retro, jazzy influences into a Cowboy Junkies sound, and plays both violin and guitar to top it off. Despite being alone on stage, Stephanie looked comfortable, giggling and talking warmly with her audience. It took Gallows Ghost, however, to get the crowd really buzzing. 

Gallows Ghost certainly don’t hold back on stage. Their dramatic sound is framed by vibrant lights and Kate’s costume-y attire. At times the performance felt a bit overdone, especially with Kate writhing around the stage like an interpretative dancer, but the audience was dancing just as wildly, and constantly cheering and howling along. This is a band that is perfect for a festival atmosphere. They may have played inside the small Hoxton Square, but the energy was suited to an open-air venue and left you wishing you were wearing denim cut-offs and Wellies, throwing your drink into the warm air. The flashy, buzzy live show of Gallows Ghost is certainly one of the band’s strengths.

Throughout the night, Gallows Ghost blended a myriad of influences and instruments into a perfect cocktail of a six-song set. It’s an unusual sound and live performance, but it works so well that you can’t help but surrender to the beat and dance around. Gallows Ghost aren’t playing by the rules – they’re carving out their own musical niche and the result is a delicious, enigmatic, danceable experience.

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