London, The Finsbury
OK, so it’s a band called English Magick, with an archaic Tolkein-esque spelling of the word magic. Coincidentally, Gandalf seems to have landed on keyboards, with an implausibly huge wizard beard, and frontman Danny Saunders in a hat looking like a leprechaun. This doesn’t initially feel like English Magick – more like Irish bewitchment. Suddenly we’re in Hobiton, and I’m Bilbo Brolan. Anyone got a ring? (Shouldn’t go there really).
Beginning their set with clunky ungrace, and basically fluffing their lines (so to speak), its promising magical beginning goes from from Led Zeppelin to Led poisoning.
It all falls apart.
But that’s just a striated opener. Something called English Magick can’t possibly fuck up this royally. And they most certainly do not.
After a false start, they rise to regal status – a two-piece that almost lampoons the likes of Erasure with insouciant grace.
The sound is euphoric – frontman Danny composed of a vocal range that can vault over mountains. He makes the tiniest stage – which is what this most certainly is – feel like an inferior closet. This is a voice that should be hitting arenas. None more so than in penultimate track ‘World’s Strongest Man’, the banging drums accompanied by a now implicit audience – the entire room is participating with fevered hand-claps. It’s euphoric – transcendent. Suddenly, everyone is indoctrinated into the Church of English Magick. Danny’s vocals are raising the roof; the keyboardist’s beard is sweeping the floor. Yin and Yang, ladies and gents.
The best is left to last – a truncated, out-of-sync beat in the style of Kraftwerk that depicts a dystopian landscape, but riding on a carousel on a fairground that’s about to close. It’s so touching – its lilting melodies are at once memorable yet melancholy; it’s like being at a fairground at the end of a pier that’s about to catch fire and crash into the ocean.
But for all that, it’s outstandingly uplifting. This is a band that likes to leap into other dimensions – and drag others into a new era. It will happen.
The English certainly worked their Magick – long may it continue.
*This article is published in Record Collector in the UK and Filter magazine in the US