Hamilton Leithauser

The Slaughtered Lamb

As lead singer of cult noughties indie outfit The Walkmen, Hamilton Leithauser has given voice to some of the biggest alternative anthems of the last 10 years. The group’s recent hiatus however has seen the front man venture out on his own, releasing his debut solo album Black Hours earlier this year.

For tonight’s show in the tiny basement of The Slaughtered Lamb in North London, Hamilton has left his touring band at home, instead accompanied only by The Walkmen lead guitarist and frequent collaborator Paul Maroon. The decision is an excellent one, the minimal instrumentation a reflection of the intimate surroundings.

Mainly sticking with songs from Black Hours, the duo begin with the tender ballad 5 AM. A piano led number on record, 5 AM is transformed into a sparse and haunting opening thanks to Maroon’s lone reverb heavy arpeggios. Other tracks include lead single Alexandra, St. Mary’s County and 11 O’clock Friday Night. However it is final number The Smallest Splinter which steals the show. In a slow burning crescendo, Leithauser’s gut wrenching lyrical honesty comes to the fore in a painfully beautiful climax. ‘Each day is like the other/I sit alone and wonder what’s left to ask for’ he croons to a ghostly silent venue.

What is most endearing about Leithauser’s words and delivery is their innate sentimentality. For a man who is almost into his twentieth year in the industry, his music still possesses the vital vitality necessary to carry his odes of love and loss. If Leithauser continues to play shows as sincere as this one, and continues to release records as heartfelt as Black Hours, the best is yet to come.