As California’s Avi Buffalo take to the stage without Rebecca Coleman, who has recently left the band, they do not even make it to the first note before someone yells an inquiry as to her whereabouts. Avi responds with the reply ‘She’s making her own music, which is exciting. We’re going to play some songs now’
Thanks for clearing that up then, Avi.
So Avi Buffalo are now a three piece and it is a fair assumption to say that just about everyone in the room is wondering how they will fair up without Coleman, who’s subtle keyboard and beautiful vocals play a large part in making the album so special.
We need not be even slightly concerned though. It takes the new look Avi Buffalo less than the opening two songs to convince us that they are still an extraordinary band.
Starting proceedings with one of the album highlights, ‘Coaxed’, things begin brightly enough. A neat instrumental bridge allows the song to flow seamlessly into ‘Summer Cum’ and it is from this moment that things really start to pick up. The song is played with twice the intensity of the recorded version and the pounding drums and heavy guitar which draw the song to a close tonight is a joyous surprise.
‘What’s In It For?’ sounds every inch the sun-drenched classic that it is. Drummer Sheridan Riley is more than an able replacement on backing vocals and Bassist Arin Fazio weighs in with a few ooohs and aaahs when he isn’t strutting the stage or bouncing around. Meanwhile Avi twitches and shakes as if he has overdosed on caffeine and, as if the guitar parts were not complicated enough, throws in extra notes during the riffs – presumably just to remind us how insanely brilliant he is at playing.
‘Five Little Sluts’ and ‘Truth Sets In’ are played raw and fast tonight and ‘Jessica’ sounds evermore like David Bowie every time you hear it.
‘Where’s Your Dirty Mind’ allows Riley another chance to prove herself as vocalist and she doesn’t disappoint. The exquisite harmonies are note perfect and the song remains as eerily haunting as ever.
There are some unexpected treats tonight too, in the form of early songs ‘Time On You’ and ‘We Can’t Try This Again’ which are both sparse and beautiful. It is these moments where they prove beyond doubt that these songs – and this band – are more than capable of holding their own without keyboards. As if to prove that point Avi performs a stunning solo rendition of ‘One Last’ – a song on which the absent Coleman would usually sing the chorus – and far from merely pulling it off, it is without doubt one of tonight’s big highlights.
They bring it to an end all too soon, having played every song on the record plus a handful of rarities, with an explosive version of ‘Margaux’ which culminates in a frenzied, blurry fingered, guitar solo which would be enough to give Matt Bellamy a wet dream. It is staggering how somebody as young as Avi can be such an assured guitarist and songwriter and as the crowd make their way out of the venue they are full of excited chatter about what they have just witnessed.
The lyric to ‘Where’s Your Dirty Mind’ goes ‘Be adventurous, show them what you’re made of’
Well tonight Avi Buffalo have shown us exactly what they are made of – and it was glorious.