An unusual atmosphere spread across the crowd when Aldous Harding emerged silently from the darkness of the stage’s back door. It seems her gig taking place at a venue called The Haunt is to be eerily prescient.
Harding’s grimacing face scoured each individual standing at the front of the stage and locked eyes with a select few, only to suddenly pull away with a deep intensity. Needless to say, it left the Brighton crowd with a sense of uncertainty from such an ominous start to the show. This continued while Harding silently prepared her guitar before she awkwardly launched straight into Swell Does the Skull with no indication or introduction.
Aldous Harding’s whole performance was uncomfortable viewing from the very first scowl, with angry faces repeated throughout. There’s also the her constant eye rolling, exposing the pure white sclera. She is either very clearly so deeply immersed in her own music, or alternatively she’s trying too hard to introduce aspects of performance art. Except gone horribly wrong.
Each song merged into the next with little distinction. A song like Elation – a favourite over here – ought to have been a moment, but went completely unnoticed and faded amongst the rest. Even the more upbeat singles (if you can call them that) like Horizon and Imagine My Man were laid flat, especially when she shrieked the lyrics ‘if you get there’ with such harsh volume it made our ears flinch.
The keyboard and bass on a select few of the songs added little extra to the performance but at least they gave our eyes a welcome break from Harding’s repetitive and tiring facial expressions. Living The Classics did show exquisite musicianship purely from the speed of her finger picking and her impressive memory with not even a glance. Later on, What If Birds Don’t Sing They Scream added an even more dark and sinister take on the lyrics, twisted edge not previously recognised when merely listening to the record but heightened through her creepy performance.
After seeing Aldous Harding live, it’s hard to listen to her music in the same way again. Her expressions and demeanour haunt our memories; we’re not sure what she’s trying to achieve, but we do know it’s taking away the sombre and elegant beauty of her music.