Back in December 2013, I spoke with two aspiring Irish musicians. Trapped within the confined space of Sneaky Pete’s toilets (due to the lack of interviewing facilities), Hudson Taylor were quick to discuss their goals of releasing a full-length album, touring the country and spreading their harmony-laden folk music with whomever was willing to listen. Skip forward to the present day and the brothers are on the cusp of mainstream recognition with the release of their debut album Singing for Strangers in March, which has already gathered traction following a BBC Radio 1 Maida Vale session last year. The brothers have now embarked on a UK and Ireland tour to promote the album, and they’re starting February off with a bang, hitting up The Caves in Edinburgh. It’s an intimate setting that will prove apt when a power cut hits at the end of the show.
Young singer-songwriter Jack Morris warms things up, providing a healthy dose of breathy acoustic folk. Following his lead are another sibling duo, brother and sister Belfast act Southern. They play a polished brand of pop folk, not quite White Stripes but rather embracing a polite, Kooks-y vibe.
Finally, Hudson Taylor make their humble entrance onto the stage. They start things off with the first single from the upcoming album, ‘Just A Thought’. The touring process has made them more comfortable onstage, as they throw themselves into each new song with gusto. Yet there’s still some slight fumbling and rambling introducing songs, which is endearing and honest, ultimately showcasing how fresh-faced they are. The boys explain how they had to drop out of school and university to pursue their dream, which was frowned upon by most family members. The touching ‘Called On’ encapsulates this move to London from the perspective of one of these concerned family members.
Stepping away from the mics, Hudson Taylor harmoniously croon their way through ‘Beautiful Mistake’, a favourite from last year’s Osea EP. Special mention should go to Tadhg Walsh-Peelo here, the wonderful fiddle player, who adds a new layer of meaning to these live renditions. Unfortunately, the small, echoing venue means that accompanying these beautiful harmonies, we also get the sound of talking from the back of the hall; Hudson Taylor still have something to learn when it comes to fully captivating an audience.
The rhythm picks up with upbeat ‘Chasing Rubies’ and ‘Care’. ‘Weapons’ is a gem, as the crowd chants the refrain, “Put down your weapons/Let’s be defenceless/Surrender your love”. This is swiftly followed by a cover of ‘Back in Black’ which reminds us all of the days when they used to play covers on Youtube.
Even the power cut after the encore can’t ruin our mood: the boys are pillars of professionalism when they keep playing unplugged. Finishing with ‘Battles’, the crowd stomp their feet and the sound echoes around the glorious venue.