Trembling Bells – The Cellar, Oxford 10/4/16
Throughout their career Trembling Bells have offered us a wide range of eclectic music styles so that, although a traditionally folk outfit, their varying catalogue has allowed them to pass through the folk bubble unscathed which burst almost as quickly as it was inflated. As a band now into their eighth year together, their ability to touch many different base camps musically has been their saving grace and given them a longevity which transcends more niche acts. Their fifth studio album, released this month, Wide Majestic Aire, has a certain nostalgia to it with nods and winks to previous albums a-plenty and highlights a scattergun approach to their ambitious compositions.
Throughout their generous hour and a half performance it is quickly evident that Trembling Bells have quite the back catalogue at their disposal and their ease with their audience and with each other on stage displays a band who are veteran performers and established musicians. Giving us a full range of their repertoire, it’s easy to cherry pick something in this plethora of tracks to get on board with. From a cappella numbers to balls to the walls psychedelia that Yes would have been proud of, it’s clear to see why Trembling Bells have established and maintained a consistent throng of admirers and the diversity of audience members was confirmation of a band who aren’t content with a fixed abode musically.
It would be difficult to be too fanatical about this Scottish five piece but by the same token, a band that you would struggle to actively dislike. The standard folk numbers are a little hard to listen to, mostly because it’s the type of song we’ve heard a thousand times over and there was an audible cringe when singer Lavinia Blackwall stated “This next song is called Wide Majestic and it’s about a river”, a little too vegan fair even for an audience they had previously labelled “posh”, stereotyping they may wish to be wary of in future performances.
Overall it was a pleasant night and although it will never be a “I was there when…” evening, you couldn’t help but admire a band with a professional and effortless attitude to live performance. Trembling Bells live on the peripheries in both genre and appeal and with no real core demographic, it’s more than probable they will bob inoffensively on their Wide Majestic for years to come.