the handsome family

The acclaimed duo performed at The Brook on Friday the 23rd.

For a duo consisting of a husband and wife couple, it made sense that The Handsome Family performed in a tight, intimate area when they came to Southampton. There are two levels to the venue, the bottom consists of bar stools and a generous standing area surrounding the stage; the upper level is focused on seats and comfortability, boasting sofas and knee high stools and tables. Thankfully, both levels have a bar for easy access. There was around 100-125 people in attendance, a number that fit the intimacy of the band and the venue accordingly.

Kicking off the night with little fanfare and letting the music speak for itself, was Drunken Prayer. His music was a little louder and verbose than the Handsome Family’s but definitely of a similar style. He played for about 45 minutes while audience members mulled around and got drinks. Afterwards, the act everyone was there to see ventured to the stage. It was immediately clear of the relationship between Brett and Rennie. The two bounce off each other perfectly, their jokey exchanges being highlights of the night. Rennie introduced each song with an anecdote or zany thought (what if eyelids could be transparent?) which gave each song a form of character.

It’s been 20 years since the release of Through the Trees, the duo’s third album and this tour is all about celebrating it. The two, backed up by two other performers on drums and other various instruments, took the audience through the entirety of the album which took roughly an hour or so.

The handsome audience 

The crowd itself was full of devout Handsome Family fans judging by the way they responded to each new song. Most notably of all as when the two and their fellow performers signalled the end of the night by finishing the album and at a puzzlingly unceremonious speed, rushed backstage while the crowd called for more. It was only a minute or two before the duo came out, ready to perform all over again. Whether this was an act or part of the performance wasn’t entirely clear but we bet it was the latter.

With this encore, they played the now iconic Far From Any Road. It was made famous by being used as the credits theme to the first season of True Detective, the first few chords of this generated applause and recognition from the audience. Half an hour of music more and the night came to a spectacular close.

The duo have just wrapped up their UK tour and are now galavanting across Europe in the next stages. Fingers crossed they’ll be back for more. If they’re feeling like celebrating the 20th anniversary of any of their other albums, we’ll be there for those too.