Here In The Wild with August Wells
“I know a boy who/Stays in his bed/Says he’d much rather/The life in his head” were the first lines of “Come Away From The Silence”, off the upcoming album by August Wells. It was breaking through the chat in a Waterford pub on a dull winter night, and had that very specific August Wells’ feel to it – honed from the crooned baritone of Ken Griffin’s charmed well of a voice, and the understated keyboard foundation of John Rauchenberger. This live version also carried a vague Irish air to it, a swaying stroke of Griffin’s guitar that buoyed it off-stage.
Support came from Brian Mooney playing gentle catching songs, and Band of Clouds on impressive spacey psychedelic folk. The talk and the noise of a pub gathering was a constant presence through the gig, and it was a regular element of the inter-song conversation from the headliners onstage as well. It didn’t put me off though; it didn’t spoil the majesty of “Here In The Wild”, with Griffin’s voice acting like a gravel path into the hearts and minds of the characters in the song. And though, from those inter-song comments it seems that the noise out here was a hill to climb for the two men on the stage, for us the song carried the stateliness of its epic tenor right through to the final chorus. “Take your brother/Take your sister/walk them across their troubled hearts”. Griffin brought his guitar to a crunch with the stretched final “hearts”; Rauchenberger’s keys delicately shifted from strong wood to raindrops as the song progressed, as the mood required.
August Wells’ performance was split between last year’s singles, 2014’s album A Living and a Dying Game and songs of ache and longing from that new album to be released in the spring. The words of last summer’s single “Come On In Out Of That Night” were worth listening to, Rauchenberger’s keys were deftly sustaining the tone of the song, right through to the very last, long extended word. From the album we were gifted with “Broken Little Dreams”, “Paper Gardens” and “Dying’s Not Worth Living For”.
The final song “Daddy” was from that new album. At first hitting us like a low hearted testament – “I’ve jumped through my last hoop…” it started – then it grew, became regal, and eventually halted us. Griffin’s vocal became as spellbinding as the sentiment was grave. Then it was done, with a quick “thank you, goodnight”, the show was over.