England’s The Clientele have an almost uncanny ability to create mood through their music, and they have been doing it successfully for over a decade. Whether it’s the autumnal tones of their latest album, “Bonfires On The Heath” or the cold winter backdrops of 2005’s “Strange Geometry,” listening to the band’s music is an organic experience. They are truly a unique band, and the sheer beauty of their music was felt in their Mohawk performance.

First opening act Michael Kingcaid and the Broken Bottle Casualties was surprisingly good, as they played a pleasant set of country tinged folk songs. Kingcaid, who also plays in the Austin band What Made Milwaukee Famous, demonstrated very good vocal control, and the band played solid arrangements.  San Fransisco’s Vetiver shortly followed, and it was apparent that  much of the crowd was there to see them. They have a sizable following, and rightly so, as their brand of 70’s inspired folk made for some great songs. Fan favorites such as “Rolling Sea” showed that the band was comfortable with their sound, and the set had a very uplifting vibe to it. They perfectly set the stage for the Clientele.

From the first note of their classic song “Since K Got Over Me,” it was evident The Clientele were going to put on a magnificent show. Lead singer/guitarist Alasdair MacLean is one of the most underrated guitarists in rock, as his pick-less playing method allowed him to hit every note perfectly, all with a healthy dose of reverb to give the notes an echoing quality. His voice recalls all the pleasantries of late 60’s English folk, and is at once soothing and mystifying. Multi-instrumentalist Mel Draisy gave the songs an added depth by incorporating violin, keyboard, and the occasional glockenspiel, while bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen kept a steady rhythm.

The band’s set list beautifully surveyed their career. In addition to “Since K Got Over Me,” there was the haunting “My Own Face Inside The Trees” to represent “Strange Geometry,” arguably the group’s finest album. There were also several cuts from “The Violet Hour,” “God Save the Clientele,” and debut singles collection “Suburban Light.”

However, “Bonfires On The Heath” was most on display, with tracks such as “I Wonder Who We Are” and “I Know I Will See Your Face” being among the songs from that album in the set.  To top things off, the band invited Vetiver on stage to play an original homage to Texas called “San Antonio.” It was truly a beautiful moment, and The Clientele are no strangers to those.

Michael Kingcaid and the Broken Bottle Casualties:


The Clientele: