“The smaller the attendance the bigger the history”, said Steve Coogan’s Tony Wilson in Factory Records flick 24 Hour Party People. It’s somewhat true of BANFI‘s headline show on the south coast this evening, where the sparse attendance at Brighton’s Latest Music Bar is an inescapable truth, but the London trio still deliver a captivating performance that suggests a rise to bigger things is inevitable.
Since the band dispensed their inaugural dose of dramatic guitar pop online in the spring of 2015, the three-piece have been galloping up the rock ‘n’ roll ladder two steps at a time, signing with the thriving Communion Records and supporting Bear’s Den and Nathaniel Rateliff along the way. You can quickly see how they’ve built such momentum tonight: frontman Joe Banfi’s pent-up howl on the folk-inflected epic ‘Where We Part’ is shiver-inducing, ‘Happy When You Go’ overspills with irresistible hooks that take up residence in the brain and refuse to leave, before latest release ‘Rosedale House’ rouses in the vein of Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire circa 2007 and, more recently, Belfast quartet Pleasure Beach.
The sound the Leytonstone band make together is euphoric and instantly wow-inducing, with bassist Chris McCuaig and drummer Aaron Graham providing razor-tight backing, while guitarist Joe Banfi fills the cracks with hyper-colour licks and reverb-drenched atmospherics. It’s a mass-appealing noise, but the latter’s six string adds intrigue, with off-kilter curveballs à la Alt-J and fidgety math-tinged moments that mirror the mighty Foals.
BANFI‘s stagecraft has drawn comparisons to The Police and there’s definitely some common ground between them and Sting & co tonight. With earworming refrains, phosphorescent fretwork and buoyant basslines, you wouldn’t put it passed them following the same trajectory to become major players.