Words by Abi Whistance
After seeing The Banquets perform at my local a few months ago, there’s one word that springs to mind when I think of them: infectious. Tambourine in one hand and a beer bottle in the other, the folk-rock trio captivated one of the first audiences there had been at The Packhorse in months, smiles spreading across every face in the crowd as they charged through two sets worth of music.
It’s clear they love what they do, every last bit of it.
It comes as no surprise that the same enchanting energy I saw that night has crept its way into the band’s first single and music video, Red Sky Morning. Embodying folk-rock in its warmth and soul, the song and accompanying video are a faultless introduction as to what can be expected from The Banquets. Swigging whisky from a bottle, spread across a desert landscape, there’s no questioning that these guys are a little bit of country. Vibrato vocals from Gemma Dee penetrate a wistful acoustic melody, the jangly tone of Leon Russell-Hills’ lead guitar cutting through to add a further depth to an already thrilling debut.
Yet it’s the level of finesse that’s the most impressive part of all of this. Not one element of this Red Sky Morning-shaped package has been half-arsed; there’s no standing in someone’s garage with a DSLR, lip-syncing to a bedroom recording. This is a cinematic experience, and the time and effort it’s taken to make this impression is impossible to disregard.
When such craftsmanship has gone into the first release from an artist, they lose their predictability. It’s hard to know what The Banquets have up their sleeves when they’re producing such a polished sound and aesthetic this early on, and it’s that level of unpredictability that allows them to take such a fizzing excitement with them, wherever they choose to go next.