Haiku Salut – Bean Caffe: live review

Following on from playing on Public Service Broadcasting‘s Top 10 charting album Every Valley and tour the Derbyshire multi-instrumental three-piece Haiku Salut have been finishing work on their third album and preparing for a handful of December dates.

Across town this Friday night motown legend Martha Reeves is at The Venue while Oi Punk band Cockney Rejects are at the Hairy Dog but in Bean Caffe at Friargate Studios Haiku Salut are about to weave together intricate strands of science and magic and treat a sold out crowd to some new tricks and old favourites.

A sold out capacity audience, as eager to hear new material as they were warm to the band, gathered around the stage area. Central to it a cover hides the instruments set out as if on a gurney placed centrally in a lab, as white-coated assistants busied around the wires and dials. Tonight was billed as being an experiment with their new set up and music and while there were moments of breath-held hesitation overall it should be deemed to have yielded successful results.

For there is no other way to describe their set than mesmerising.

While the other shows will be lamp shows, the blinking of lights adding a sensory level to the music, tonight we get to see the workings bathed only in soft violet light and shadows. However it is lit the show is always as much physical performance as musical and tonight we get to see them working out the steps, committing to memory not just the notes but the paths between instruments, the layering of sounds, and the movement around each other. The stop-start of some songs, the premature peep of the accordion, the soft ‘help me’ when electronics don’t respond is all part of it and adds rather than detracts for this hometown crowd of friends, collaborators and long-time fans.

Heading toward the release of album three the newest material has a more industrial feel and heavier vibe than the earlier work, best described as the digitisation of a pastoral sound, but its a definite evolution rather than a departure from their sound. The sound conjured tonight fills the small space, rattling the industrial fittings and echoing from the walls. It emanates ethereal from the instruments as we stand transfixed by the conjuring and coaxing before us.

Even as a technical rehearsal and trial run for the coming dates the show tonight was once again a special one from this very special band, holding out exciting promise for next year’s album as well as their next run of shows. Endearing and honest this was a performance without pretence from a band unafraid to show their workings, and who enjoy the magic they make just as much as the audience do.


Haiku Salut play London, Oxford and Manchester in December – some dates are sold out but more details of all the shows are here.

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Images by Ian Cudmore at IC Things Photography.

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