NATION OF LANGUAGE + DEEP TAN – CHALK, BRIGHTON 21.11.22
Nation Of Language features Ian Richard Devaney (lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer) and Aidan Noell (synthesizer, backing vocals) as well as new bassist Alex MacKay who has replaced Michael Sue-Poi for the band’s 2022 tour.
They hail from Brooklyn, New York and have made a name for themselves creating music from another lifetime. From signing to PIAS mid-campaign, selling out a UK tour months in advance, to the release of their album ‘A Way Forward’ which came out last year to critical acclaim from NME (5 Stars), Financial Times (4 Stars), Gigwise, Pitchfork, Mojo, Stereogum, SPIN, and more.
They have thus far released two top quality albums, 2020’s ‘Introduction, Presence’ and the already mentioned 2021 ‘A Way Forward’ album, and now on 9th December they will be dropping their new 7” vinyl single titled ‘From The Hill’, which features soothing vocals over a synth-pop dream. It will include a vinyl exclusive track ‘Ground Control’ as the B-side.
I do believe that this evening’s concert at Chalk is their first ever performance in Brighton, although the Brighton & Hove News Music Team have already reported on one of their previous concerts, when they played the XOYO venue in London on 2nd February this year – Review HERE
First up this evening are Deep Tan who we have also reviewed before. Coincidentally, one of our reports of Deep Tan was the following day on from the Nation Of Language concert above. This was when Deep Tan were celebrating ‘Independent Venues Week’ by performing at The Hope & Ruin along with Deadletter and Priestgate. Prior to that, we attended the band’s first ever appearance in Brighton, which was on 7th November 2021 up at The Prince Albert as part of the ‘Mutations Festival’.
Deep Tan are a memorable trio consisting of Wafah on vocals, and handmade tiny guitar, Celeste is on bass and Lucy is on drums. Their 30 minute set this evening ran from 7:33pm until 8:03pm and they gave us no less than ten tunes. Thus the average length of each song being less than three minutes, obviously allowing a few seconds in between tracks to introduce them and to prepare for the next number.
Sadly, the venue was deadly quiet as they took to the brightly lit stage. The atmosphere was nil to begin with and being at the very front, I felt apprehension from the stage. This was the first UK date of the Nation Of Language tour and so it was Deep Tan’s first time supporting them. If I had to guess a relevant support act in the same mold as the headliners, then I must convey that Deep Tan would be far from my mind.
Deep Tan does not use synths as a starter, but having said that, there isn’t really anyone out there that sounds like them, and I guess that as they are on their way up, that they have to support someone. The Deep Tan sound is governed by their French frontperson’s (Wafah’s) small guitar. It’s a one-off and was specifically built for her using her specifications, I can recall her telling me at one of their previous concerts. It has a high pitch twang like that found on The Cure’s ‘Killing An Arab’. This is counterbalanced by Celeste’s bass and jaunty post punk drumming style from Lucy.
The first few tunes, ‘Constant Inconsistencies’, ‘Deepfake’, ‘Gender Expansion Pack’ and ‘Camelot’ pass us by and it all feels like a wet rainy Monday night in Brighton, all a bit down in the dumps, but it’s not totally the band’s fault. But the more tunes they perform, the more punters they start to get on board. Although, some compositions do end abruptly or sooner than one would surmise that they would. After another half a dozen tunes they were done.
Here is an act that is plowing their own furrow and the only other nod that I could grasp from their set, was Lucy’s drumming near the conclusion of their set sounding like ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ by Bauhaus.
They recently released their combined ‘Diamond Horsetail’ and ‘Creeping Speedwells’ EP’s onto one disc as a ‘Dinked’ edition and that sold out superfast, which is a good sign that folk are grasping where they are coming from.
Wafah (vocals, guitar)
Deep Tan set list:
‘Constant Inconsistencies’ (from 2020 ‘Constant Inconsistencies’ single)
‘Deepfake’ (from 2021 ‘Creeping Speedwells’ EP)
‘Gender Expansion Pack’ (from 2022 ‘Diamond Horsetail’ EP)
‘Camelot’ (from 2021 ‘Creeping Speedwells’ EP)
‘Tamu’s Yiffing Refuge’ (from 2022 ‘Tamu’s Yiffing Refuge’ single)
‘Rudy Ya Ya Ya’ (from 2022 ‘Diamond Horsetail’ EP)
‘So You Ever Ascend?’ (from 2021 ‘Creeping Speedwells’ EP)
‘Diamond Horsetail’ (from 2022 ‘Diamond Horsetail’ EP)
‘Beginners’ Krav Maga’ (from 2022 ‘Diamond Horsetail’ EP)
‘Oyster Pink’ (unreleased)
After a break of 27 minutes, it was time to go Nation Of Language to grace the stage at 8:30pm. They would be entertaining us for the next 68 minutes, with fifteen tunes.
They entered Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ and indeed it was to become a perfect day! Thankfully the venue was now packed but possibly not quite sold out. The atmosphere had greatly changed from when we first arrived. There was now a buzz of anticipation circling around the room.
The trio positioned themselves near the front of the stage in an even line. Thus on our left (stage right) we had Aidan Noell on Moog synthesizer, Prophet synthesizer, as well as another synth and also on backing vocals, center stage we had Ian Richard Devaney on lead vocals, occasional guitar (mid set), and keyboard dabbling and to our right (stage left) was new recruit Alex MacKay on bass guitar and backing vocals.
There’s something that you might not have realized but despite the name, Aidan is actually a female. Not only that, but she is married to Ian. The story goes that she was an audience member at a concert that Ian was playing at and after the performance she went up to the merch stall to introduce herself and they clearly clicked as they kept in contact and then she moved to New York City for an internship and then they started dating. At that stage Aidan didn’t play any instruments, but Ian taught her and wind the clock forward and Aidan and Ian are standing here in front of us making sweet indie-pop music to everyone’s ears.
They begin with their 2020 ‘A Different Kind Of Life’ single, of which the synths sound like OMD. Immediately after just this one tune, we are all aware that Ian is very much in the same mold as Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring, in that no inch of the whole stage is not going to be missed whilst dancing around. The crowd seems to feed off his energy and enthusiasm and as ‘Rush & Fever’, ‘I’ve Thought About Chicago’, ‘September Again’, ‘Miranda’ and ‘The Gray Commute’ drop, the more intense the set and crowd become.
The sound is thankfully very clear and the lighting is great as well. Half way through their set, Ian, also plays guitar and they inform us that their manager (who I think was called Georgie) actually lives in Brighton. Well then Georgie, let’s have them back on your home turf again I say!
During their set, Ian’s vocals and arguably their overall sound conjures up thoughts of A Flock Of Seagulls, as well as A-ha, mixed with Our Daughters Wedding (especially ‘Lawnchairs’). There are hints of the more obvious New Order and even The Cure. There was even possibly an unconscious nod to ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ from Ultravox!
‘Wounds Of Love’, ‘What Does The Normal Man Feel?’, ‘From The Hill’, ‘This Fractured Mind’ and ‘The Wall & I’ were all given an outing and then they were off! The punters were baying for more……and they got it! A trio of tracks to be precise; ‘Automobile’, ‘Gouge Away’ (Pixies cover) and ‘Across That Fine Line’. Although the setlist indicated a choice of ‘Indignities’ and/or ‘Gouge Away’. I’m not sure on this front, simply because I was far too busy dancing in order to make hardly any notes during this wonderful set. I certainly wasn’t alone.
Their set concluded at 9:38 to rapturous applause and one of our photographers even stated that this had been his gig of the whole year! My friend who also attended tonight with me, came along on a punt as he hadn’t actually heard of them before and now has admitted that ‘Across That Fine Line’ has suddenly become one of his top songs from the whole year and it came out of nowhere. My other friend who was there said that she really enjoyed herself very much this evening. Many in the crowd were voting with their feet…………and the poor guy at the merch stall was inundated with fans wanting to buy t-shirts, CD’s and vinyl. The merch was flying out the door and some of it ended up in my house!
Today had been a marvelous day, especially with England beating Iran 6-2 at the World Cup, but tonight’s performance was amazingly even better than that for me! Ian, Aidan, Alex and manager Georgie take note and book another Brighton date as soon as possible!
Nation Of Language:
Ian Richard Devaney (lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer, percussion)
Aidan Noell (synthesizer, backing vocals)
Alex MacKay (bass guitar)
Nation Of Language set list:
(‘Intro’) ‘Perfect Day’ (Lou Reed)
‘A Different Kind Of Life’ (from 2020 ‘A Different Kind Of Life’ single)
‘Rush & Fever’ (from 2020 ‘Introduction, Presence’ album)
‘I’ve Thought About Chicago’ (from 2017 ‘I’ve Thought About Chicago’ single)
‘September Again’ (from 2020 ‘Introduction, Presence’ album)
‘Miranda’ (from 2021 ‘A Way Forward’ album)
‘The Gray Commute’ (from 2021 ‘A Way Forward’ album)
‘Wounds Of Love’ (from 2021 ‘A Way Forward’ album)
‘What Does The Normal Man Feel?’ (from 2016 ”What Does The Normal Man Feel?” single)
‘From The Hill’ (from forthcoming 2022 ‘From The Hill’ single)
‘This Fractured Mind’ (from 2021 ‘A Way Forward’ album)
‘The Wall & I’ (from 2020 ‘Introduction, Presence’ album)
‘Car’ (from 2020 ‘Introduction, Presence’ album)
‘Indignities’ (from 2017 ‘Indignities’ single)
‘Gouge Away’ (Pixies cover) (from 2020 ‘Gouge Away’ single)
‘Across That Fine Line’ (from 2021 ‘A Way Forward’ album)