@ Newcastle O2 Academy, January 26 2011

One of the most critically acclaimed rock bands of 2010 graced the O2 Academy and this was a treat.

American alternative rockers Band of Horses brought their atmospheric rock to a near sold out crowd and brought some much needed talent back to Newcastle’s music scene on a night where pop-fever seemed to have gripped the city.

Off the back of their most successful year following the release of third album Infinite Arms, Band of Horses brought their country western, indie rock infusion to the North East. Supported by equally chilled out indie rockers Mojave 3 and Goldheart Assembly, this gig was never in danger of mosh pits or crowd surfers. But that’s no bad thing.

In the case of Mojave and Goldheart, the term warm-up band isn’t the most apt. But the rich and emotion-laden tracks the bands produce more than makes up for any lack of energy.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of BOH, the easiest description is a blend of Mumford and Sons’ quirkiness and the country western rock of Kings of Leon. Often picked as backing tracks to US TV drama shows, such as One Tree Hill or The OC, the range of tracks on offer stretches from stripped back acoustic to almost anthemic rock ballads.

The band arrived on stage in the same manner they left, without bravado or fancy lighting sets, just straight into positions. Three songs in and the crowd responded en masse to one of the band’s biggest hits, Compliments. The atmospheric sounds seemed perfectly matched to an intimate gig but with a few tweaks here and there it’s easy to see why festivals are clambering over themselves for this band’s signature.

With three albums to their name BOH have collected a decent back catalogue but have yet to really achieve that one song that sparks the crowd into unison. As it stands each song is greeted with individual cheers or smatterings of applause as each audience member seems to have their own personal favourite.

Factory, No-one’s Gonna Love You and The Funeral got the largest seal of approval from the sizeable crowd. The biggest challenge or question the band seems to face now is one that Kings of Leon must have faced once upon a time. Do they go looking for the mainstream and try and record their Sex On Fire? Or do they carry on doing what they seem capable of mastering- bringing joy to the masses, just one fan at a time?

Andy Spoors