Rosie Hill reviews Ferris and Sylvester’s gig at the Phoenix.
Ferris and Sylvester played the last and final night of their latest tour in our very own Exeter Phoenix venue on Wed 9th October. The London-based duo have not been making music together for very long, but are appearing on every ‘One To Watch’ list you can think of, and continue to soar in popularity in the indie rock sphere. As I’m sure every student reading this is aware, the main auditorium of Phoenix has brilliant acoustics, but a large room like that needs vast amounts of stage presence to fill it properly. Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester have that charisma in spades I am happy to say, and their set was electric for every song. Ferris’ smoky vocals worked beautifully with their genre blending collection of songs, that sway between heart-thumping guitar riffs and harsh truths set to softer melodies that make you want to rock out at the same time as texting your ex.
We arrived in the early evening to keep our journalistic integrity and get the full set of starting acts, who could only be described as A) tragically mopey, self-referential and inaudible and then B) brash and awkward. Having however survived three years of lectures of the exact same things, we soldiered on through the twanging and mumbling, all for your sake dear reader, until the main act arrived.
They both have strong dusky vocals that shine out through the almost aggressively strong harmonies
With high hopes thanks to Spotify research the day before, we waited in darkness for the pair to begin, however I can categorically say that no one was prepared for the huge difference that there is between their recorded music and the experience of them live. The duo combine a mixture of blues, folk and indie rock n’ roll that is amplified a hundred times in such a small space. They both have strong dusky vocals that shine out through the almost aggressively strong harmonies and we finished the night still feeling the bass reverberating in our chests combined with the dazed look of festival goers.
If you want my recommendation for future listening, look to the Nearly Nashville playlist on Spotify. For their best songs of their final set I have to say that the new song ‘I Dare You’ and ‘Flying Visit’ were beautiful examples of their blend of hard and soft tones in the same songs, while ‘Better In Yellow’ has a bluesy-electric backing that will get stuck in your head and under your skin for the better part of a week, a definite must have along with your Pret coffee for walking to campus and pulling the last of the Exeter sunshine out of autumn. With MOJO magazine calling them “a masterpiece of Brit Folk that should have already made them household names” and Rolling Stone saying that they have “a rich and fully realized sound that leaves one pining for a full-length”, we are doubly lucky that this was not the first time that they have come to play here, having performed last year before the release of their new music. Issy Ferris rounded up the set with a wonderfully exposed final song that they haven’t yet produced called “This Is How My Real Voice Sounds”, combining Stevie Nicks-esque hair with her huge range in voice, so that we all left the concert determined to drink more red wine, take singing lessons and cut a thick fringe.
It’s hard to seriously recommend anything that costs 11 pounds to any student, doing anything, ever, but if you go to a concert at Phoenix I would say that this is definitely not one to miss. For fans of Sam Fender and Tom Grennan this has a similar vibe, and if they become as universally known as everyone seems to expect that you can have the joy of saying that you heard them live before they were really cool.