The Wandering Hearts – Live at the Borderline – Review

Review and photos by Chaz Brooks

A packed Borderline club saw the stratospheric rise of The Wandering Hearts continue with the group’s first headline gig at a major London venue. This sold out weeks ago and the band’s reputation is growing fast.

Support came from Eleanor Nelly who, like The Wandering Hearts, is signed to Decca Records. If you didn’t know she was 17 you wouldn’t have guessed it. Her performance in a half-hour solo support set was outstanding, with maturity far beyond her years but not her experience, as she’s been gigging since she was 13.

Playing a set of original material Nelly received an increasingly warm reception. To give you an idea of how good she is, imagine a young Courtney Marie Andrews.

With a strong country voice, this talented singer-songwriter from Liverpool is destined to progress. Her self-penned tracks included Eventually, Circles and Airplanes. Choke is a moving song with aural glimpses of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Pretty cool for a youngster, but she didn’t perform like a youngster. Should I say young star?

The crowd was a mixture of ages and the Hearts came on stage to a tumultuous reception. The four vocalists, girls Chess and Tara, and boys Tim and AJ, were accompanied by Lee Campbell on double bass to give depth to the sound.

Fire & Water set the benchmark, with all four singing in perfect harmony and AJ taking lead vocal duties. A great start and the intensity not diminishing one iota until the group walked off stage an hour later. This band has come of age.

After the first number the crowd went wild. Heartbreak Hotel, original – not Elvis, again saw AJ on lead vocals. If I Fall continued the gorgeous harmonies with Tara taking the lead and a slightly slower tempo. Nobody’s Fool brought the pace up again with the two girls sharing the vocals.

Never Expected This is a new song, a love song about a girl which AJ wrote in Nashville. He casually mentioned that she has just agreed to marry him and that she was in the audience.

The next song is a perennial highlight of The Wandering Hearts set. This is the moment they step away from the mikes to perform Burning Bridges, with only the sympathetic accompaniment of Tim’s guitar. Tim excitedly said that this is going to be the band’s next single. He asked for quiet but he needn’t have bothered, you could have heard a paper pin drop until the rapturous applause at the end of this most beautiful of songs.

Wish I Could, the band’s debut single, saw the band laughing as the crowd were singing along. You could see the surprise and delight as the four realised that the crowd were singing their song back to them. It dawned on them they now have fans.

Another new song, Biting Through The Wires had gritty, bluesy vocals from AJ as did Laid In The Ground with yet more perfect harmonies. This track and driving beat was reminiscent of Big Love by Fleetwood Mac.

Then the group’s second single Devil, with more stomping and crowd singing. In a couple of years it will probably be re-released as a single the way that the Police twice released Roxanne.

For an encore came Rattle. Maybe because of the intimate venue or maybe the magic of The Wandering Hearts but I began to wonder the impossible …. were Fleetwood Mac ever this good?

After the gig I joked with Tim that I would write “an average” review. He asked “three stars?” No. This performance was off the scale. At least six stars out of five.

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