Right in the heart of London’s busy West End, just off of Denmark Street, sits St Giles In The Fields Church. Once inside the building it is difficult to believe that somewhere as peaceful and serene can exist in the heart of the West End. It is also difficult to imagine a venue any more perfect for the exquisite American vocal group Mountain Man to perform.
Let’s not jump too far ahead though, because first it is the job of Ireland’s The Lost Brothers to warm up the audience. Their lyrics conjure images of old time America and their simple acoustic songs and Simon and Garfunkel-esque harmonies sound hugely striking in these surroundings. They perform brilliantly and certainly leave with many more fans than they arrived with.
Mountain Man – confusingly named because there isn’t a male among the three of them – arrive on a stage lit by a single church chandelier.
As they begin singing, their voices rebounding off of the walls and filling the venue, it becomes immediately apparent why this band are collecting plaudits at the rate that they are. They immediately invite as many people as will fit to leave their pews and sit on the floor at the front of the stage, which renders proceedings considerably more intimate than they already were and by the third song, a cover of the Mills Brother’s 1930’s song ‘How Am I Doin’?’, there isn’t a person present who’s neck hair isn’t standing on end. It is an amazing feat considering that so far they haven’t even used their guitar – the only instrument they ever use to accompany their voices. And what voices. All three of them have an impeccable range and when they are all singing together it is something truly precious.
Tonight they play all of the favourites from their debut album Made The Harbor. ‘Mouthwings’, ‘Animal Tracks’, ‘Buffalo’ and ‘Honeybee’ are all played tonight and they are all stunning. ‘River Song’ is hugely impressive and sees Molly Erin Sarle use sharp intakes of breath almost as an instrument while ‘Animal Tracks’ sees Alexandra Souser-Mannig demonstrate her guitar skills whilst Amelia Randall Meath and Molly rest on each other’s shoulders as they perform baking vocal duties.
As well as being such immensely gifted vocalists they also have a unique chemistry when they perform together. Between the songs they talk with the audience, they joke and they giggle and the whole thing feels extraordinarily natural and relaxed – it is as impossible not to be charmed by these three as it is to not be moved by them.
The night seems to go by so fast, one mesmerising song after the other and it all ends with a wonderful rendition of ‘Sewee Sewee’ and a standing ovation before the audience reluctantly filter back outside into reality and the raucous streets of London.