‘THE LAST WALTZ’
FAREWELL SHOW – LONDON ULU – 7TH DECEMBER 2017
In less than a decade Goldheart Assembly released two fabulous albums before calling it a day. Keith Goldhanger reports on their farewell show.
When Goldheart Assembly first stood on the Camden Barfly Stage during one of (XFM) John Kennedy’s all day events back in 2010 it was immediately decided by one of us there that day that here we had a band that we just knew would eventually be sound tracking our Sunday morning hangovers.
They sang like the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes and The Everly Brothers, there were at least half a dozen people up on stage and they looked like a bunch of young school teachers as they sang beautiful harmonious songs that we couldn’t wait to hear again.
Debut album Wolves and Thieves was soon released after the first sighting and between then and this evening the band seemed to turn up intermittently at almost every venue available to us regular night owls in the capital. Some of us were also fortunate to cross paths with the band during long messy weekends at Glastonbury, Reading and Standon Calling however no pleasantries ever took place.
They were the band and we stood by the bar.
They were spoiling some of us at times but we never tired of the band or left disappointed. We’d just stand there, singing along quietly to the tunes we knew rather well before getting on with our lives until the next time.
Which was often on a Sunday morning after taking advantage of the all night tube a few hours earlier.
By the time the second album Long Distant Song Effects came along we knew we had a band to rely on. We knew that whatever happened we’d always have the CD’s. Two albums that would remain on the most convenient shelf to listen to whenever we felt like a sit down and a nice cup of tea.
For at least one of us this is the end of a band that seemed to achieve everything there was to realistically achieve. Those big barns and stages aren’t for Goldheart Assembly. Bands such as Coldplay or The XX can have those.
Tonight would be special though.
Going out with a whimper like many bands before them would be a shame whilst at the same time we’re not expecting flashing lights, confetti cannons or bunches of flowers this evening either. Somewhere in between maybe?
We settle on a couple of sets by the band tonight. One conventional last blast of the tunes we’ve loved for a few years and one featuring some of the people they’ve crossed paths with during their existence to perform some of the hits these people have been involved in that we all know very well.
We get The Magic Numbers playing Love Me Like You with the band, Ian Dench from EMF guides us through Unbelievable and we cursed about missing the first few minutes that featured The Treetop Flyers and a list of other names I could just copy from the poster. Mark Morriss from the Bluetones also stepped up to sing Slight Return and had some of us singing along as we sometimes do when it gets played down Griffin Park at half time on a Saturday afternoon.
It was still very early, the clock was yet to strike nine and if all that wasn’t enough to realise this was turning into a fabulous evening James Walsh arrived to actually prove one of us wrong about our past opinion of Starsailor. James’ voice had everyone’s attention. Silence is Easy and Good Souls got us about as teary as we were going to get this evening and for a few moments it was easy to forget the strings, percussion and piano were that of the band we were here to wave goodbye to.
The second set is the usual shuffle of tracks we’ve loved for the best part of a decade that ends with a stage full of musicians from earlier playing along to a fine version of Dylans’ I Shall Be Released before allowing one last song by the seven piece in the way of an obscure Beatles track (One After 909) to round off the night.
This was as big Goldheart Assembly ever needed to be.
What made this such a wonderful farewell was that this wasn’t in one of the big sheds sponsored by telephone companies. This was the ULU, a modest size venue with a history of many great nights out and always a good venue for any occasion. To hear Goldheart Assembly sing together and play together has always been a pleasure for those fortunate to have witnessed and to hear these tunes played live one more time before the band go off to do whatever it is that they’ll be doing from now on was as special and satisfactory as any previous time.
John Herbert’s new outfit Mono Club will fill the gap Goldheart Assembly have left behind from now on. We may miss some of the superb harmonies John has been sharing with James Dale but early signs are indicating a suitable project we may find ourselves embracing just as much.
Not the end of the world then.
If you can get to the point where you have two decent albums behind you and manage a farewell such as this then that’s a lot more than other bands will have achieved. Goldheart Assembly were a superbly gifted band with some superb tunes that some of us are grateful to have had the chance to hear performed live more than once. We leave thankful, not sad, disappointed or let down and whilst the band move on the CD’s remain on the shelf next to a couple of Triffids albums for those weary Sunday mornings when we need something soothing to listen to.
More photo’s here : https://www.flickr.com/photos/14386564@N00/albums/72157690182867804
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.