Clemency live at The MuseReview
Sadly it's been a couple of years since I was last able to post an article on the splendid Clemency (it was their February 2020 gig at Leamington's Town House), so it was great to catch up with them last evening at The Muse (also in Leamington).
It may have been a relatively fallow musical period for Nina & Ben (this was their return to performance) but they have not been idle during that time: the highlight without doubt being the birth of Runa on 17th November 2021 (sadly not quite ready yet to join the family band though I understand she has been working very hard on her vocals). They also have been recording at 14 Records (some of the songs involved appeared in the set) and looking further ahead to the release of the new Ellie Gowers album ‘Dwelling By The Weir' in September, one of Nina's paintings graces the cover.
Sadly The Muse is going into some form of hiatus as a venue (though I understand continuing as a project in other guise) so the event was something of a celebration & farewell for founder Tracie Farren. (Clemency also opened the venue some four years ago).
An intimate performance space (people spilled outside into the warm evening sun in Regent Grove), the sheer & varying numbers in the audience impacted on the sound: set high to have effect when the room was packed, in the moments when the crowd ebbed, the power of Clemency, not necessarily one of the qualities one normally goes for first in describing them, was quite breath taking: Clemency can rock (not for nothing to they do an AC/DC cover).
In fact one of the keys to the appeal of the band is that in addition to the high quality of both voices & instrumental playing (while Ben's guitar work obviously attracts attention, don't underestimate Nina's subtle & often powerful percussion), it's the interplay of the elements which elevate the performances from great to superb. They clearly spend a lot of time working on the details of arrangements & so you get the lot: solo vocals, harmonies, alternating lead vocals, guitar, cajon plus that final and often overlooked element: space, with all or some of the factors dropping in & out. What you don't get is a homogenous mix through the set or even individual songs.
The set itself naturally showcased too their writing: there were the covers from AC/DC, John Martyn & Cameo which Clemency fans will recognise, longer term favourites like "Man At The Station", "Fly" or "Pillar To Post" plus brand new tracks: one, which I believe is called "Key 2 Shape" particularly delighted my ear & is I understand one of those recorded. (Considering recent tragic events at 14 Records, unfortunately any release date is as yet not scheduled).
Given that they have more dates pencilled in for the summer (watch this space, but Songs by The Lake in Culworth on 4th June, Napton Festival on 9th July and Purbeck Valley Folk Festival in Dorset on August 21st are ones for your diaries), Clemency will without doubt be back to what they do so well & did last night: delighting audiences & winning more & more admirers.