With a devout Manchester following, it was no surprise that musical duo Aquilo were a popular addition to the Gorilla calendar. Specializing in that elusive genre of “dream pop” mixed with indie and a hint of electronica, Aquilo are a hard one to define. Who cares really? They came to sing some songs all the same.

A nearly/almost/not quite sold out Gorilla was buzzing for the arrival of fellow Lancashire lad’s Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher to perform. They’re clearly a talented pair; Ben plays on keys, backing vocals and guitar, and Tom guitar and lead vocals; he’s got a well-ranged voice with touches of soul. Theirs is a set of stand out songs, though unfortunately a couple resting high on the bland barometer. Latest single ‘Seagull’ was probably the best performance of the show; it’s a sleekly polished track with a catchy hook chorus; whereas, ‘Sorry’ sat on the early-2000s James Blunt side of whiny. Their strength lay in their ability to sing in clearly rehearsed harmonies together; that’s something that takes many years to get right and is something that Aquilo could help them stand out from the competition.

Ben did most of the chatting to the responsive crowd, giving good banter and even described being back in Manchester as “feeling like coming home”, to one audience member screaming “Manchester will always be BLUUUUUE!” Something tells me that is about football, right? Some elements of old school folk shone through some of the tracks, especially on ‘Silent Movies’. It’s a fast paced track that builds up momentum as it goes on, Tom sang the track beautifully and made it a stand out of the gig. If you like that whole Mumford & Sons sound, this side of Aquilo will appeal to you. The set was a quick 45 minutes that ended with the sentimental ‘Almost Over’. “We’d have a longer set, but we’ve only had one album”, joked the lads. They missed a trick by not performing more tracks from their album ‘Silhouettes’ that have that welcome chilled out, funkier vibe; feel free to stream gems like ‘Never Hurt Again’ and ‘Complication’. They’d have elevated the set list to a more feel good level if they’d included them. Nevertheless with a little fine tweaking the duo have real potential that could easily see them return to Manchester next time bigger and bolder.

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Aquilo performed at Gorilla on Sunday 15th April 2018. Words by Tom Frodsham.

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