August and After @ La Raza

OJ Watson is treated to a beautiful concert by Cambridge’s own August and After.

august and after cosmpolitan quartet cupcake embers le raza Music rod stewart ronnie scott's

It’s always lovely to see what people from Cambridge do after leaving the bubble. Ned and Vedantha graduated in 2012 and have since had an amazing time with their band August and After (A&A). They both took a year out to follow their dreams; gigging around London and producing  a top quality first album – Embers. So I was so happy to hear that Ned was returning to Cambridge to do a masters as I knew I would get the chance to see A&A perform again in Cambridge.

The night started with A&A’s friends – Cosmopolitan Quartet; a string quartet who at their heights have performed with Rod Stewart at the O2. So certainly Le Raza was a tad more intimate, but the lovely ladies from France were delightful. The girls all study at the Royal College of Music and have collaborated with A&A, and tonight certainly turned some heads with the odd May Ball and June Event music reps showing interest.

Cosmopolitan Quartet opening the night

Cosmopolitan Quartet opening the night for August and After

Their set consisted of covers of well known pop songs; certainly not something new, but they brought with it a sense of real energy and their arrangements were cleverly constructed, in particular their covers of Hotel California by The Eagles and Toxic by Britney Spears. The  balance bewtween pizzicato and arco allowed for the more complex songs to be well characterised and showed the level of thought that had been made with their arrangements.Their set broght a smile to my face with their relaxed demeanour perfectly capturing the mood of the night.

Watch out for the rogue bagpipe player in this cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic

A&A then took the stage. Ned has often said that he went out with a guitar to pick up girls, and picked up Vedantha instead. I’m sure he’s glad it was that way round as A&A have enjoyed various successes on the back of Embers. This success has included a recently extended residency at the famous Ronnie Scott’s and nominations for breakthrough music awards. A&A consist of a guitar duo with an accompanying bassist, Tom, and the violist from Cosmopolitan Quartet, Jordan. A&A have a distinctive style of classically inspired alternative-folk, but it is their orchestration that is their real talent, managing to create a powerful weight behind tight vocal harmonies and thoughtful lyricism.

Ned and Vedantha of August and After

Ned and Vedantha of August and After

They started their set as a four piece, playing songs from their recent album, including the beautiful Orchard and Set Sail. The audience were also treated to what can only be described as the most awkward crowd interaction; stories about writing songs by beautiful lakes in Chile were just so awkward they were good. This maintained the relaxed vibe that was started earlier, and the free A&A iced cakes were a nice touch.

The melancholic Set Sail

At this point they were joined by the rest of the Cosmopolitan Quartet giving them an added depth to their sound. The band continued to play original material before covering Kids by MGMT, to which the crowd relished the opportunity to join in. Their set drew to a close, and Ned and Vednatha were congratulated and paid thanks to Le Raza for generously hosting, and were similarly approached by June Event and May Ball reps. The Le Raza staff had nothing but positives to add, with one member of the bar team being quoted on his appreciation of A&A: “Easily the best band we have had in here – really great stuff and made for a top shift”.

DIY music videos = Win!

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Photographer: Chris Williamson – http://cjwphotography.portfoliobox.me/