Orlando Seale and The Swell – Oslo Hackney, 11/12/15

How did Orlando Seale’s dramatic sound come across at their Wrestling single launch in London?


There’s a tragic lack of showmanship among many new artists. No matter how solid a band’s sound is, there’s just something about a good stage show that takes things to a new level.

Orlando Seale and The Swell are hugely dramatic in their orchestral indie sound, so it’d be a shame if their stage show didn’t live up to the music. But that’s always a serious risk when orchestral strings form a backbone of your sound – it can be very difficult to translate that effectively to a live setting.

Luckily Orlando and the band are well prepared for the stage. After a succession of talented opening acts (in particular the just-for-tonight union of Brooke Sharkey and Adam Beattie, whose expansive folk outpourings are astonishingly beautiful), Orlando is welcomed to the stage with a dramatic, megaphone-delivered monologue from Doctors of MadnessRichard Strange.Richard Strange introduces Orlando Seale

The passionate intensity and musical drama of the set is absolutely unrivalled. Not only does Orlando put his heart, soul and body into every syllable and movement, but he does so in a way that is truly captivating. The audience is eating out of the palm of his hand, and he is revelling in it.

In case the music wasn’t quite enough to give the impression of openness and vulnerable honesty, Orlando’s stage prescence reinforces it. He is at the mercy of the audience, opening up in an empassioned outpouring of emotion in a way that very few artists do. Yet, at the same time, he is confidently in control. It’s a mesmerising paradox of vulnerable inferiority and commanding superiority that make Orlando a true performer and a genuine artist.

Of course, the stage show is only one facet of the night’s entertainment (which, unlike from many artists, it can genuinely be considered). The songs, while good in recorded form, are given a new life in a live setting – particularly the gloomy stomp of All Of The Dogs and the passionate surrender of new single Wrestling. They develop a new depth, constructing an inpenetrable wall of sound that swells and transcends, turning a venue in a dingy corner of Hackney into a tent at Glastonbury.

Taking things to a brand new peak with climactic encore I Love You Beast, which is so powerful it beggars belief and renders words futile. After a night like tonight, it’s a crime against artistry and music if Orlando Seale and The Swell aren’t dominating the festival circuit in 2016.

Also, they had the best way of selling their single ever: by selling artisan chocolate bars that included some nice artwork, song lyrics, and a track download.

Orlando Seale sells world's first chocolate song bar

What a time to be alive.

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