Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Heavy at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

Kelvin Swaby
Vocalist Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor became friends in 1998 when they worked at a clothing store in Bath, England. They bonded over a mutual passion for vintage rhythm and blues. Taylor was from a classic rock’n’roll background and became enthralled by Swaby's world of hip-hop and sampling. Taylor heard Swaby sing, and they formed the Heavy in 2007. They hung posters around Bath advertising themselves as The World’s Fattest Twins and The World’s Heaviest Bastards, then realized they needed a proper band (and a proper name). They recruited bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul. The Heavy's music has been used widely in media, with their 2009 single "How You Like Me Now?" becoming the band's signature song. The Heavy released its fourth and most recent album, Hurt & The Merciless, on April 1, 2016.

The Heavy successfully bridged rock and soul tonight at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall. Opening with "Can't Play Dead," much of the music was rooted similarly in 1960s urban American music, but given a strong rock interpretation. Swaby's full-throated vocals were husky and gritty, commanding attention even when Taylor's guitar was crunching hard, funky, fuzzy riffs. There were few subtleties; although gentler pauses arose here and there, the biggest impact was generated in the rawer garage moments, when both musicians and audience grooved together to a ripping wave of sonic soul. The Heavy's performance demonstrated how sometimes a British band needs to remind Americans of the richness of their musical legacy.

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