[LIVE REVIEW] LANKS + ELKI + Mark Harding // Leadbelly // 19/08/17

21 Aug

[LIVE REVIEW] LANKS + ELKI + Mark Harding // Leadbelly // 19/08/17

Following the recent release of his new single Comfortable multi-instrumentalist and producer LANKS, aka Will Cuming, began a four-show tour in the heart of Newtown last Saturday night. The intimate performance featured tracks from LANKS’ latest EP Viet Rose, along with some older songs and some newer songs.

Opening the night was singer, guitarist, and producer Mark Harding, accompanied by drums and keys. Harding has previously performed for acts such Little May and Wishes but recently stepped into a solo role, releasing two singles, Say It Too and Thorn In Your Side. The combination of electric guitar, keys, and drums along with Harding’s woody vocals provided the perfect amount of subdued groove to get the night started. Despite a few minor slipups, Harding put on a solid, enjoyable performance.

Second on the bill was Sydney singer/songwriter ELKI, along with a four-piece backing band that filled the small stage to the brim. ELKI’s particular brand of electro-pop saw strong vocals and dance-along drum rhythms. The bass on the track Sirens shook the room, as did ELKI’s dancing, not keeping still for more than a few seconds. The energy between the band members was palpable, even at the back of the room, and within a few songs the crowd in front of the stage had grown significantly. ELKI supplied big sound and a strong attitude that you can’t help but admire.

LANKS closed the night, playing both guitar and keys whilst singing, supported by Justin Olsson on drums and Jess Bonnitcha on synth and backing vocals. The set was filled with mostly “bangers”, although LANKS did occasionally slow the pace with tracks like April, a piano driven folk ballad. Heavy As A Heartbreak, a collaboration with artist Just A Gent brought the energy of the crowd to a peak, the track featuring heavier bass and a bigger atmosphere than LANKS’ originals. However, the response to this song was mirrored with popular LANKS tracks Bitter Leaf, Golden Age, and the encore Holla.

The track Sometimes featured a energetic flute solo, a LANKS specialty and a rarity in electronic music. The only downside to this feature of the show was that there wasn’t more of it during other tracks. And the classical instrumentation didn’t stop there, with the title track Comfortable featuring LANKS’ sister on trombone, a difficult instrument to solo on but played well during this performance. As a classical musician myself, it was exciting to see these instruments in this setting, as opposed to stuck in a orchestra behind a music stand.

My only gripe with the overall performance was a lack of control over the electronic aspect of LANKS’ music. For electronic performers, it can occasionally be a challenge to look like you’re actually doing anything on stage, and this was apparent with LANKS’ performance. Although he was playing guitar/keys and singing for most of the show, there seemed to be a slight disconnect between what I was seeing and what I was hearing. However this can easily be improved on, and judging by the momentum LANKS is building, it could be a future outcome. Other than this, the performance was energetic and more than enjoyable, and the music LANKS releases continues to impress.

– Emma Whitworth