London SE1 Queen Elizabeth Hall

[a]Hobotalk[/a] revitalise guitar-rock's over abused vocabulary.

For all the angst bubbling away at the heart of [a]Hobotalk[/a]’s exquisitely hewn heartbreak-rock, playing support to [a]Magnetic Fields[/a] at a swanky, seated venue such as this seems to present some fresh new hell.

You can sense be-stetsoned singer Marc Pilley‘s frustration as the assorted Mag-fans take their seats mid-set, often mid-song, since music as grand, as romantic, as [I]intense [/I]as this should be savoured in a single sitting. A casual listener might mistake the craggy likes of ‘Dime’ for blustery classic-rawk, but listen closer, and you’ll hear a songwriter and, more importantly, a [I]band [/I]who understand the inherent drama a fine riff can evoke.

While [a]Hobotalk[/a]’s debut album ‘Beauty In Madness’ is a more muted, intimate affair, showcasing Pilley‘s marvellous sour-toned balladry, live, his band build a stately rock that burns with the austere intensity of prime Crazy Horse. Elsewhere, [a]Hobotalk[/a] happen upon the remarkable fusion of muscular riffage and lovelorn elegies that Screaming Trees mastered on their ‘Sweet Oblivion’ album. That Pilley shares the wracked timbre and scarred tones of the TreesMark Lanegan doesn’t hurt, of course.

[a]Hobotalk[/a] close their set with an epic, amps-burning guitar duel between Pilley and guitarist Ross Edmond, eschewing muso-wankery in favour of an ever-darkening emotional pitch. No mere transient dad-rockers, [a]Hobotalk[/a] revitalise guitar-rock’s over abused vocabulary.