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Richmond Fontaine - Borderline, London, 28/9/2004

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 24 / 9 / 2004

Richmond Fontaine - Borderline, London, 28/9/2004


Portland-based Americana act Richmond Fontaine recently returned to Britain for the second time in a year. Olga Sladeckova watches them play a triumphant set at the London Borderline

It is the second time round that the Portland-based band Richmond Fontaine have made it over to Britain. This time they are playing more gigs, including making a brief venture up to Scotland. Their first shows in London appeared popular right from the outset so it is no wonder that the Borderline is on the night in question completely sold out. One thing that does strike me is the sign outside the venue saying that the band are due on stage at 9:00. That is quite unusual for a band playing a venue with a capacity of 200 people to be expected to play a set of up to 2 hours before the curfew at 11. When I pass the door and walk down the stairs to the main hall the London band the Redlands Palomino Co. have just come on the stage. The Redlands Palomino Co. have just released their debut album ‘By The Time You Hear This…We'll Be Gone’ and their career is just beginning to flourish. The album was greeted with very favourable reviews and has been described as a “fabulous mix of sassy country, raucous rock and weepy ballads”. Hannah Elton-Wall , the band’s lead singer, sings ‘Music’s On’ in a soft, but powerful voice. Country guitars set the perfect scene to a country evening. While the Redlands Palomino Co. sold out the 100 Club just a week ago and are becoming increasingly popular in London, it appears that Richmond Fontaine’s fans have been equally fast at buying tickets. When the band finally appear on the stage just past 9 o’clock they welcome them excitedly with applause. Tonight’s set consist largely from songs off their fifth and latest album. ‘Post To Wire’. and also its predecessor ‘Winnemucca’. ‘Montgomery Park’ is a fast and rhythmic song. Perhaps a bit too rhythmic as a man in front of me starts jumping up and down and moving quickly to its beat. A few seconds later he hits my wine glass which, considering it cost £4.50, I can’t help saying was more of an investment rather then just a treat. ‘The Longer You Wait’ also has a fast rhythm. This distnctive song is both about getting away from the real life and also about a relationship in trouble. “He took her on a trip, after she got suspended and was put on review, down 395 In the middle of the night” sings Willy Vlautin, the band’s singer and guitarist. One of the most touching songs of the night is ‘Two Broken Hearts’. To this almost fragile tune Willie sings “See they were in love And it was the first time In her life she felt easy around anyone It was the first time in his life that he ever Felt right because he’d never felt right Two broken hearts together might not be broken” I look around myself and there are people standing, their eyes glued to the stage with expressions of sadness, evocated by the meaning of the song. Perhaps it’s just the lyrics, perhaps it’s just the music or a mixture of both but Richmond Fontaine’s music has always proved to come literally from real life. ‘Post To Wire’ is a duet with female vocals on the album provided by Deborah Kelly, the singer with Texan group ther Damnations. “Dave will be singing the female part” says Willy about the band's bassist, Dave Harding. “You hang out with those guys long enough and they start to look good” he adds much to the amusement of the fans. The song sounds upbeat with friendly guitars lifting the mood up. “This song has the best lyrics I have ever written” Willy announces about the next song ‘Twyla’, which is actually an instrumental song. While Richmond Fontaine's lyrics are a very important part of the song this time, you realise listening to this how much potential their music has as well. ‘Hallway’ has strorming vocals and thundering music. The music builds up to a great strength and then slightly fades in the background with the backing vocals provided by the whole band. To close their main set the band pick their possibly most powerful song ‘Western Skyline’. It’s a tragic song based on accident that happened to Willy’s uncle who shot and badly hurt in a hunting accident bled to death in his friend’s arms. The music is tragic but in a very powerful sense especially when guitars kick in half way through to accompany the dying man on his way up to the “Western Skyline”. From the applause Richmond Fontaine are awarded with you can be sure they will soon reappear on the stage to continue the show. The few minutes of the break are long enough for the venue promoter to jump on the stage and triumphantly announce the band’s next performance in London. Then he enthusiastically thanks the band for coming and invites them back for an encore. We never want to go home tonight.

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Richmond Fontaine - Borderline, London, 28/9/2004

Richmond Fontaine - Borderline, London, 28/9/2004

Richmond Fontaine - Borderline, London, 28/9/2004

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Interview (2016)
Richmond Fontaine - Interview
John Clarkson speaks to Willy Vlautin, the vocalist and songwriter with acclaimed Portland, Oregon-based Americana band Richmond Fontaine about its tenth and farewell album, ‘You Can’t Go Back if There’s Nothing to Go Back to'
Interview (2009)
Interview (2007)
Interview (2005)
Interview (2004)
Interview (2002)

live reviews

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Richmond Fontaine - Greystones, Sheffield, 25/4/2016
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digital downloads


We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River (2009)
Cinematic and atmospheric eighth studio album from Portland, Oregon-based group Richmond Fontaine, which, while often sadly bleak in its subject matter, is also emphatically life affirming
Thirteen Cities (2007)
Post To Wire (2004)
Winnemucca (2002)

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