Music has the power to take you aback. It happens to me, at least, and it does so from time to time, without notice. Battersea Arts Centre is in my (new) neighbourhood and, needless to say, I was just waiting for the right occasion to show up and get to experience a bit more of a city, London, I call home nearly five years after moving here. The “right occasion” is the biggest show to date by Ferris & Sylvester, an up and coming duo based in Streatham, and I admit I didn’t know much about them before the beginning of this year.
Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester are a two-piece; they met as solo musicians and started together a journey through the intricacies of growing as artists in London’s vibrant indie scene. “I’m happy to be here, I met these two guys and saw them becoming bigger and bigger so quickly…” says Southampton-born Jack Francis who – with his electro-acoustic guitar – warms up the venue right before the show. It’s the best way to kick-off a Thursday night in a (very) cool place, decorated with countless fairy lights just above the stage.
Ferris & Sylvester are warmly welcomed by the crowd, and the show starts on the notes of ‘Save Yourself’, one of the duo’s breakthrough numbers in 2017. Issy and Archie combine their influences blending folk, hints of country and blues. Their signature sound is rather unique, and literally throws me back to what New York City must have been back in the 60s and 70s.
The two musicians smile and shine, engage with their audience and, more importantly, play their tunes with energy and passion, picking from their production so far and the forthcoming EP, ‘Made In Streatham’, out on February 2nd. Yes, made in Streatham, and quite literally, I’d like to say, because the new extended play – Issy says – was entirely written and recorded in the flat the duo shares in South London. ‘The Room’, taken from the new batch of songs, is a declaration of love for London and that slice of the city still open and friendly to everyone, with its coffee shops and local amenities.
Ferris & Sylvester talk to my heart and bring little stories that breath life. ‘Vices’, ‘Jerry’ (“A song for all those people whose bosses are a***holes…”), the astonishing cover of Shakey Graves’ ‘Dearly Departed’ follow in the setlist. Right before more intimate moments like the beautiful ‘Burning River’, inspired by a trip to Iceland. Simple ingredients: Issy alternates bass and guitar, a third member shows up with a trumpet, not to mention Archie as a skilled multi-instrumentalist, kicking his percussions whilst delicately engaging with his guitar. The new single ‘London’s Blues’ draw a curtain on a triumphal show, as part of an encore that includes a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Jackson’ too.
Ok, here is the thing: Ferris & Sylvester are amongst the ones to watch this year. Too lazy to do so? Fear not, they will come to you – sooner or later – and you won’t be able to help it: their genuine explosion of sounds and good vibes will make you dance and clap your hands. They will tell you simple things about love, the twisted relationship with the city you live in, and that therapeutic way of trying and handling adversities with a smile on your face.