Aldous Harding

Aldous Harding


The intimacy of The Castle Hotel is palpable, as support Chloe Foy, tonight requests everyone to move forward, get closer, and feel the innards of the music. She’s gentle and gracious, and her music is charming, much like curling up with a classic book such as one by Jane Austen; comforting and homely. She treats us with both new music inspired by those most important, family and friends and life, and those from her 2013 released EP, In The Middle Of The Night. There are moments where she begins to expand on what her songs mean, but stops, so as not to reveal too much by telling us the end of the story, before we hear the beginning. It’s lovely, it’s a bit like being allowed into someone’s private life, which the intimacy of The Castle Hotel amplifies, and amplifies just enough to make you feel suitably comfortable and snug.

The wooden room oozes history, and is the absolute idea of where live music should be performed. There’s the small stage, the bar serving drinks in another room, the sound engineer at the back of the room, who’s told throughout the performance to improve and perfect what the singer hears as flawed, and the standing crowd huddling closer, feeling the warmth from the stage, and for those on the stage, feeling the warmth from the crowd. From that description though, it really could be anywhere, but if you’ve ever been it feels a little bit otherworldly and transcendent, or maybe that was the music, narratively transporting. It’s all pretty pleasurable though; body warming, such is the body heat, but also heart warming.

If Foy is like a Jane Austen book, Aldous Harding is a bit like Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a little bit bonkers, and a little bit baffling at times. It makes sense to the author, but the reader, or for us as the listener, we are left a little bit mystified, which worked for Carroll, as does it work for Harding; we’re all captivated. She’s certainly talented, with expertly crafted lyrics, arpeggio skill, and is clearly comfortably at ease within the room; chatting away and joking with us. Often though her humour is taken with a pinch of puzzlement, but soon we’re all in awe of the differences between Harding, with her lively facial movements, her intense stare, and her altered voice while performing, and Harding, and her persona while engaging the crowd, and displaying herself as the opposite but intentionally meant self-deprecating person. In many respects she’s hilarious, and by the end of her set she’s applied that persona more clearly in her music, singing ‘What If Birds Aren’t Singing, They’re Screaming’. It’s the Gothic in her music turned on its head, and displayed in full realisation of what it can create, an altered world where everything is not as it seems.

It has definitely been a night of opposites, between Foy and the known revealed and Harding and the unknown concealed, between joyous Harding and her sombre music, between the wistful music and the perplexing lyrics, and then back to reality; between the warmth within the room and the coolness outside. It has been at times unfathomable but in the most enjoyable way, just as when you get to the end of a never before read book and you realise it’s been time well spent, reading the unknown. Here we’ve spent time figuring out what makes another person tick, is the same as what makes everyone else tick, making life a little bit more pleasurable by realising the here and now, and requesting a red bull and vodka when it’s finished, just like Harding.

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Danielle Kenneally

Silent Radio enthusiast: Silent Radio News Editor. Silent Radio Newsletter Editor. Silent Radio Reviewer. Dangerous Panda over and out.