The Magnetic North – Islington Assembly Hall

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(I can’t find any videos from the night, so that’s an album track)

Why This Gig?

I discovered Hannah Peel when I saw her supporting Tunng a couple of years ago. I loved her debut album and I see her whenever I can. She hasn’t been doing much solo stuff recently, but she plays with a couple of bands – John Foxx and the Maths and The Magnetic North. The Magnetic North’s album was one of my favourite albums of last year.

I saw The Magnetic North play at the Purcell Room last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was very happy to see that they were playing in London again.


Support was from Faroe. I saw them a few weeks ago supporting Paper Aeroplanes and thought they were very good. I was really happy to hear that they were support at this gig. They are two Norwegian women who sing lovely songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar. I found that I recognised a couple of the songs that they had played the last time I saw them – which means they must have made an impression on my. I’ll be investigating them further.


Actually, before The Magnetic North came on, there was a break while the band showed the film that that made about the recording of the album. The also showed this when I saw them last year and I was slightly surprised to see it again. But I suppose they only really have the album to play, so it’s a useful way to make the evening longer. Not that I’m saying that it’s just filler. It’s an interesting and well made film. I hope it gets a DVD release at some point.

Another short break after the film and then the band appear. They are a three-piece (keyboards, guitar and bass), but when performing live they bring a lot of friends – drums, strings, brass and a choir. I think they said that they had only met some of the musicians a few hours earlier, but it really didn’t show.

The album steers very close to being a concept album, so it makes a lot of sense to play it through in order. So that’s what they do. And they do it very well. The album has a very complex sound and  it’s impressive how well they manage to reproduce it in a live environment. Sadly they say that this is probably the last show they’ll do with this album in London. But that means they try a little experiment – they sing “Netherton’s Teeth” unamplified – something that would be tricky in a room that’s much larger than this one. It’s not completely successful, but it gets the biggest applause of the night.

I’d guess that most of you aren’t aware of The Magnetic North, which is a shame. I highly recommend investigating their album. And look out for them live. You won’t be disappointed.


The media’s music reviewers seem to have missed this show completely.

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