111mounteerie2013_byLouisaCrowe – SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – 

I’ve only relatively recently gotten into Mount Eerie, the moniker adopted by Phil Elverum after he stopped the incredible Microphones (seriously, if you never have, check out The Glow Pt 2 album…all sorts of amazing), so this show at the ever brilliant Soup Kitchen was my chance to see an act that I’m still discovering the back catalogue of. Elverum is quite the prolific artist, indeed he released two albums last year, the heavier Wind Poem and the album he’s here to support tonight, the fantastic Clear Moon.

Elverum strolls onto the stage in front of a well assembled crowd, with three accompanying ladies, unusually two of who are holding bass guitars, whilst the other stands by a drum pad and cymbal, with Elverum brandishing a wonderful twelve string guitar. They take a bit of time to set their instruments to ‘just right’, while the crowd waits anxiously for the show to start. As soon as they do, you could hear a pin drop all night, because the band are absolutely spell binding. What they do could very easily be described as ‘lo-fi’, with Elverum’s fragile voice (reminiscent of Jason Lytle’s from Grandaddy), and their distinctly DIY set up, but that would do them a disservice, because they are much more complex in their simplicity than that.

With nearly the entire set drawn from Clear Moon, they enchant with their harmonies (there’s one point during ‘Yawning Sky’ where all four voices on stage combine to spine-tingling effect), but it’s not all sweetness, with the entire duration of ‘Over Dark Water’ made up of discordant noise and wailing vocals from the trio of women surrounding Elverum, with him taking a back seat and looking on proudly as they make a unholy noise which is still somehow incredibly beautiful. ‘The Place I Live’ is awesome, a combination of the gentle and the fantastically powerful that Mount Eerie do so well. Several songs like ‘Lone Bell’ start off with Elverum’s hushed tones accompanied only by his gentle guitar playing, only to ascend into a dirge of noise for the final coda; it’s impressive stuff indeed.

My favourite moment of the night comes as the main set draws to a close, the band leaving the stage, and the enchanted crowd shouting for more. A sheepish Elverum comes back to the stage and says, wryly, “we don’t have any more songs”, despite having released two albums last year and 5 others, as well as numerous EPs and one offs, but he smiles and beckons the ladies back on stage for one final quietly triumphant tune. Before he leaves the stage again, he urges us to check out the merch stand as “we’re near the end of the tour and there’s some deals to be done – we need to get rid of it!” and with that minimal fuss, they’re off. Mount Eerie are a band to treasure, and deserve to have a bigger fan base…do yourself a favour and join us.