Howls of anguish were the unlikely response to Sleepy Sun’s emergence on stage at London’s Borderline last night. Chants of “Where has she gone?” overwhelmed the cheers, with fans – particularly male fans – concerned by the absence of Rachel Fannan, the group’s talismanic front woman. Although the anomaly remained unexplained – Fannan in fact left the band earlier this year - as the remaining members launched into their set they seemed to have ground to make up.

Luckily Sleepy Sun – now operating as a five piece, with Bret Constantino picking up sole vocal duties – have psychedelic verve in reserve, perhaps even in their veins, and the loss was quickly forgotten. Bathed in red light, the group dipped into both new album ‘Fever’ and the older ‘Embrace’, really hitting their stride with fan-favourite ‘New Age’. At full speed Sleepy Sun burn like a meteor with nowhere to land, blazing an inimitable trail across the night sky. Each piece is immersive in the extreme – for both the audience and band – with tracks – each seven or eight minutes long – merging into one trancelike experience.

It sounds a touch hippy-ish, but this is thoroughly modern rock. Taking what is best from the past – Black Sabbath, the Velvet Underground – and moulding it into something new. There is such pleasure, such energy in their performance that is impossible not to be spellbound. Special mention should also go to guitarist Evan Reiss; a guitar virtuoso in a real classic sense. Sleepy Sun allow their music to build slowly, rationing the full-on cathartic moments to increase the impact, but the apex of each song Reiss unravels such an irresistible wall of noise from this instrument it is almost impossible withstand. Many of the audience are simply left standing their open mouthed in appreciation.

New piece ‘Toys’ is thrown into the mix later on, alongside the epic ‘White Dove’, before the set closes with ‘Sandstorm Woman’. Titles, though, are pretty much irrelevant for a band like Sleepy Sun, with the sound coming in waves, washing over the awestruck crowd. This really is something that needs to be seen to be believed.

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Commenting On: Borderline, London, 29/11/2010 - Sleepy Sun

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