At the end of 2019, after crowning Bedouin Soundclash‘s album MASS the top album of the year, I waited patiently for the group to announce U.S. tour dates for 2020. Though I had seen them once before ages ago opening for State Radio at Los Angeles’ now defunct Knitting Factory, my love for the group had grown exponentially since then.
And then of course: Covid. Any chance of seeing the band live would certainly be years off. But, thanks to livestream technology, the group found a way to safely play an acoustic live set from an unnamed Canadian island to tide us over. And as actual live shows returning is only a few months away here in L.A., this will hopefully be the final Live Report for a livestream show we’ll ever have to do (fingers crossed).
Playing as a duo, guitarist/vocalist Jay Malinowski and bassist Eon Sinclair opened with “Mountain Top”, off 2010’s Light the Horizon. It becomes clear fairly quickly that many of BS’ songs translate acoustically very well, though doing them in this style allows Sinclair’s excellent bass playing to really shine through. The rhythms and bass lines are so critical to the structure and grooves of Bedouin Soundclash‘s songs, and they are often hidden in the foundation of the tracks in the studio recordings.
Sinclair’s work was on create display on Street Gospels‘ “St. Andrews”, and again on Sounding the Mosaic‘s “Jeb Rand”. One of the nice touches of this live setting was it gave Malinowski a chance to give a little background on certain songs, revealing that “Jeb Rand” was inspired by Robert Mitchum’s film Pursuit. They then brought up a dinner they were able to have with Andy Summers in Santa Monica, before diving into a perfect cover of The Police‘s “Walking on the Moon”. There’s no doubt that the English band are a key influence on Bedouin, and they took to the track so naturally you would think they wrote it.
The complexities and wide genre influences on the tracks on MASS likely make them difficult to play with only two people, so it was sad but not surprising that only one track from that record, “Clockwork”, made it into the set, but the track did sound great in the setting. Next, discussing the trip they took to Sinclair’s homeland together and the sea walls there, they launched into “Gyasi Came Home”, followed by “Chance of Rain”. The soft “12:59 Lullaby” sounded particularly beautiful sung acoustically, as it is such a delicate track.
The duo closed the show with the anthemic “Walls Fall Down”, somewhat dedicating it to our ability soon to be outside of our own walls as the pandemic ends, and then their biggest single “When the Night Feels My Song”. Both came across bright and clear, and Jay’s voice carried the long notes of the former track with a fitting rawness. Most excitingly, for their final song, Bedouin played a brand new track, “Walk Through Fire”. While time will tell what the studio recording sounds like, the ska riffs and upbeat melody of the track definitely lend it towards potential single territory.
While it sounds likely that we’ll get the next album from Bedouin Soundclash before we get their next tour of the States, this teaser of a concert did it’s part to get me hyped for when they do eventually return to California for a headlining show. Until then, listen to their excellent music here.