The pandemic came at a bad time for the Wandering Hearts. Rising stars after the acclaim for their debut album, Wild Silence, and backed by the powerful presence of Decca, the group had just finished recording their self-titled album in America which was scheduled for release when the world came to a juddering halt.
Guildford’s Boileroom is a super venue, with meticulous covid procedures at the door. This show was a sell-out, and the punters were respectful of others, all eager for live music.
The trio, of female vocalists Chess and Tara and hirsute guitarist/vocalist AJ, were upfront on stage, with erstwhile bassist Lee Campbell, now doubling as second guitarist, at the back, with Chess chipping in with occasional bursts of mandolin.
The opening track, Hammer Falls, featured the trio’s trademark harmonies sounding superb through the venue’s new sound system. The 14-song set featured several songs from the new album and crowd favourites from before. Lead vocal duties shared around as ever.
I Wish I Could had the audience singing along, clapping and smiling, although nobody had a grin as wide as AJ. The harmonies of I Feel It Too bring to mind the The Secret Sisters of Alabama.
Dreams, from the new album, has lyrics by US country giant Marty Stewart, who has been the group’s champion ever since they supported him at London’s Cadigan Hall in 2017 [BOON review here]. Tara joked that they had to adapt some of the lyrics as “our souls” didn’t translate particularly well into English. This was part of the light-hearted banter from and between the group, with AJ’s cheesy humour still to the fore. Nobody minded a jot — everyone was having such a great time. Dreams was one of the tracks of the night, and they recorded these vocals for the album at the Cash family cabin in Henderson, the track carrying the bouncy feel of Ry Cooder’s Little Sister.
The Wandering Hearts are back. Harmonies to die for, infectious tunes, excellent stage presence and oodles of energy. The trio has come of musical age and won’t be playing smaller venues like the Boileroom for much longer – they recently announced dates for 2022 which includes a headline show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
The set finished with two crackers from the debut album, Fire & Water and Devil and the audience raptuously singing and clapping along. The stunning quiet harmonies of the always mesmeric Burning Bridges served as the encore warm-up for Build a Fire.
Catch the Wandering Hearts when you can. They are on fire.