The Veils, Swimming, SO SAY SO
Alisha Ahmed 21/09/2009
'Playing the Scala kinda gives me what I want, or comes pretty close... Yeah'
Those are the improvised lyrics to the end of Sit down by the Fire that The Veils' Finn Andrews gifted the crowd gathered at the Scala with on Monday 21st of September with. The same Finn Andrews that only a few months ago would not speak a word without chords backing it up, having me believing he was too modest for a crowd already following him with moon eyes at a sold out Dingwalls in Camden last April.
Soulful is the first adjective that comes to mind when I take on the incredible task of defining the experience of seeing The Veils performing live. Soulful in an authentic and honest way that makes you actually feel like it's too much, and you're too invasive just by witnessing them on stage as they throw around so much truth and emotion, completely undiluted, and still authentic even if it is coming from a stage.
I have a very deep appreciation of The Veils, but my love for them never blinds me to their limits and faults, it merely allows me to justify them. But they were there and were the constant subject of talks during the times I encountered frontman Finn Andrews. The last discussion we had was about confidence on stage, and my last words about The Veils live had that in mind: the people in the stalls used to look at Andrews as if he were some kind of deity, as if he could've snapped his fingers and the adoring crowd would do anything. Yet (and this is what I find hard to believe) he did not have this awareness. He once confessed to me that it wasn't out of humbleness but out of fear that he was not stepping out of the song's performance. He used to just play his songs, but with such deep intensity and passion as to make him as beautiful as to seem unreachable - like a piece of art hanging on a wall.
He was playing his music then he disappeared, leaving the crowd pleased but craving more, a yearning that was sending sparks flying, but was not igniting fireworks.
I don't know exactly what happened during the last four months, but I left The Veils as a shy band, exiting a pub they had just played in Brighton. Now, after touring the US, they've come back to London as absolute rock stars!
Anything I might have said about Finn Andrews' lack of interaction with the public was literally wiped away: he came to London to own his crowd and it was his because of their devotion towards him but also because of the grip he exerted on them!
Somewhere along the dusty roads and travel lodges on the other side of the ocean, something must have happened for him to catch the epiphany that people are actually there worshiping him and his talent. He grew past the absolute unnatural (for a rockstar, as much as for a lovely person) nervousness and still being the most loveable and nice of singers around nowadays. He did not let it grow into arrogance as most musicians tend to do, but six years, three albums and the development of an amazing talent for music later, and he honed that humbleness into confidence. After all, his crowd, his public, his disciples have shown him that he deserves to be on a stage, repeatedly. He discovered a way to turn his shyness into self-aware, ironic speeches between songs, his insecurities on stage into precious pauses where he finally acknowledges the London crowd as friends, not judges. Playing the Scala, The Veils gave back energy to the crowd in the same form they received it.
After facing yet another band member departure (new drummer Reife Burchell has been with the band in the last few months after the departure of Henning Dietz after some five years), and all the challenges that must be bringing along, they proved they can not only survive all the changes that can come to their way, but that they have the ability to turn those into self-improvement, growing and maturing into true artists and amazing performers in the process.
Being at the Scala to witness The Veils performance equaled joy: pure absolute undiluted joy, so much so that if I were Rough Trade, I'd set a special budget which covers holidays for the band over to the US if this is the shape they come back in! But more than anything, I'd forbid them to be true to their statement that this gig will be 'the last time we play in London... at least for a little while'. You can't come back to us like these amazing artists, performers, charismatic stars all in one, just to ditch us afterwards! We are in need of your new-found way to reach to us and I honestly hope you won't give us time to forget about the amazing performance you delivered, before giving us the next one. And the next might be even better, if that is even possible! Because The Veils have always shown this tendency to top what was supposedly already their best. One thing's for sure: they've found their way to convey this ability in a live environment as well now.