With the departure of Matt Brooke, and the promising sounds coming from his new band Grand Archives, I was apprehensive that there would be a noticeable hole in the Band of Horses sound for tonight's show, but once Ben Bridwell took to the stage it was pretty clear who was in charge - and the wound had been well and truly healed.
His constant chat and banter quickly warmed the crowd, and a couple of a numbers quickly did the same to warm Bridwell's vocal chords. His powerful voice was the star of the show, but the value of the entire band's sheer enthusiasm cannot be underestimated.
The multitude of tattoos poking out from under shirt sleeves should have given some clues that behind the gentle looking bearded band was a hairy monster waiting to rock out. While The Funeral may well end up being their Creep, it was phenomenal live, with a sweeping majesty that was helped along by the singing crowd. The drums and two bass action of Our Swords showed some breadth to the band's style, and while there was plenty of instrument swapping it never hindered their performance. I guarantee you have never seen a man play a lap guitar like it was a flying V, but such enthusiasm lifted Great Salt Lake into a new dimension.
For probably the first time in memory the lack of songs on offer from a band with only one album never even hinted at being a problem. The band seems to have discovered a lost secret stash of moonshine with this forthcoming album, as the unlikely situation of new songs sounding as good as your old favourites was what we were treated to. The loud, rolling, bar room brawl of songs culminated in a fantastic foot stamping sing-a-long to a new track and it was certainly a million miles from the busker 're-imagining' No Woman No Cry on my tube home.
I have a new entry at number one for my albums-I-can't-wait for list, and Band of Horses have cemented their place far beyond a mere My Morning Jacket stand in.