Upon entering St Pancras Old Church – apparently one of the oldest of its kind in Britain – it’s hard not to feel nervous for anyone who plays there: a cavernous hall might well swallow up any sound too slight, and the two acts about to approach the stage might well be too delicate.
That’s not the case at all this evening, where immediate mention must be made for support act Seyr (pronounced Sayer, as in batshit-barnet Leo). What we watched unfold was nothing short of sheer magic: an uninterrupted 30 minutes of electronic soul so heavy it’s enough to make one feel submerged. Spreading an effect hypnotic with a reverb-drenched falsetto, this beautiful mesh of James Blake and How To Dress Well were quite right to perform in a church, as there’s nothing else to do but lower your head in reverence.
It’s a tough act to follow, but Wyles & Simpson certainly set the scene with dozens of candles – a deft touch, given their stage set-up is essentially just the unassuming duo and their panels. Admittedly theirs is a sound that is quite hard to bring alive, given the layers of production and harmonies that make their studio work so remarkable. But opening singles Light & Dark and Stormy Skies put those doubts aside, as Abigail Wyles easily fills the church with her impressive vocal depth and texture.
There’s a lot to root for with Wyles & Simpson, some excellent songs aside (and ignoring a slightly misjudged Tears For Fears cover). One false start and a premature end make them burst into giggles, and the over-polished sound suddenly takes a more endearing sleeve. Like a lot of famous ampersand-ed duos before them (Shanks & Bigfoot excluded), their chemistry is apparent, if still a little raw: tonight they give us a glimpse of their talent, but also make us rather excited about what they could become one day.