Treetop Flyers are bordering on something original with their combination of traditional folk harmonies, offset by the blue notes of Geoff Thomas Widdowson on the sax – but something about their ‘70s Americana sound keeps listeners thinking they’ve heard this somewhere before. It’s clear that the band are heavily influenced by late 60s/early 70s west coast rock, and you could feel this mellowness ebb and flow throughout their set – their vibe definitely wouldn’t be out of place on a hazy summer afternoon somewhere.
I always forget what a good venue the Bullingdon is, just big enough for great sound, but small enough for even packed gigs to be intimate. Being there on Tuesday night felt like being among friends; there was no tension in the room, and all six of Treetop Flyers, crowding the small stage, seemed comfortable with each other and with the audience. Watching people having that much fun performing is infectious, and if there had been a few more of us at the Bullingdon and we’d all been a few more beers deep, there would have been a lot more dancing going on. It’s an indication of Reid Morrison’s ability as a frontman that he can flit so easily from making jokes with his fans between songs to being a genuinely charismatic performer. The band were consistently tight and all impressive musicians, but it was only Morrison’s voice that gave the band any kind of edge. At their most impressive when elements of soul found their way in, his vocals were always confident and captivating, despite warning us mid-set that a nearly-lost voice was holding him back from reaching his usual energy.
There were problems with levels throughout the set, and though the band were right to prioritise Morrison’s vocals, it did mean that the combo of Laurie Sherman on lead guitar and Widdowsdon on sax was sidelined. Where the recent addition of Rupert Shreeve on drums has given the band a noticeably greater depth in comparison with their earlier releases, some of the complexity of the relationship between the guitar and sax lines were lost.
Treetop Flyers were at their best when they picked up the pace, and the funkier additions to their eponymous new album stood out as indications of a promising new focus for the band. They may not end up being your new favourite band, but Treetop Flyers are well worth going to see.