Cropped for TV: Band of Horses at Brixton Academy reviewed

Seattle dreamers Band of Horses are all about size – big beards, big choruses, and an epic panoramic sound.

Like a big budget remake of a Hollywood classic, the quintet feed off the classic country-tinged rock of the Seventies and repackage it for the iPhone generation.

They’re in good company too – bracketed alongside the retro-meandering of The National, Fleet Foxes and Local Natives. Like all the above, they’re faced with the trouble of translating their bedroom-brooding introspections and shimmering harmonies to a beery crowd.

The answer is dumb it down, strip it back, and vamp it up – the set focusing on their rockier moments, and mellower tracks given a firm injection of testosterone.

Early stompers Is There a Ghost and Laredo captured the band’s restless angst best, as did a reckless run-through of Pavement’s Summer Babe.

At times grungey frontman Ben Bridwll’s vocals felt weak, the harmonies frail and lost in the cavernous hall. But like new-found
 pros, the band precisely milked fans’ favourites Ode To LRC and The 
Funeral to a limb-splayed, yearning climax.

The Horses’ are a cinematic band, their three albums shimmering with
 Technicolor panoramas. But stripped of the studio polish, it felt like
 a widescreen film cropped for television, with something unseen
 missing from the picture.

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