I hadn’t really registered that tonight’s gig taking place on a boat would mean rocking - I guess I assumed that the Thames didn’t really move. But it did, which left me feeling unsteady on my feet before I’d even got to the bar. Thankfully though, the tide went out quite soon afterwards which left the floor unmoving, if at a distinct angle. The top deck was fast filling up with people dropping by for a drink after work, and I arrived just in time to grab a table, a pint and soak up the last of the sun. It really was a beautiful evening and Tamesis Dock has to be one of the better open-air venues in London; with fairy lights strung between the posts and views on Big Ben, the Wheel and the BT Tower, only the traffic noise from the Embankment marred what was a very festival-esque atmosphere – definitely not what I expected from a venue halfway between Vauxhall and Westminster. The set-up in the performance area – a long, narrow space with no stage and sofas against the wall – meant that latecomers instinctively sat on the floor, lending an intimate and slightly reverential air to the proceedings. This was helped by the fact that everyone at the event seemed to be either friends or family: Wilkommen Records gives the impression of being a very close-knit group of people. Kristin McClement set the tone for the evening – laid back, acoustic folk-cum-singer/songwriter music. Joined by a cellist and a drummer, the set was a mixed bag of solo guitar and ‘full’ band, with the other members alternating between contributing equally to the piece and just providing accents to the music – something which was done to great effect in a song they sung about a giant (I don’t think Kristin actually told us the name). I did like this paring back of the other instruments to expose the guitar, but I thought the cellist in particular could have been better showcased at the start of the set – luckily though this balance did start to shift. She has a particularly soulful voice; very low and sensual, it washes over you and insinuates itself into your brain without you even realising. The other members complement the sound beautifully without being overbearing – a difficult feat when the sound you’re complementing is a solo guitar and soft vocals. Their last song was fantastic; the lyrics sounded like text from an original folk story (the kind where people actually die at the end, not the kind with talking animals and songs every 5 minutes) and the way the drums and cello were used was quite extraordinary. Up next – Laish. Now 5 members isn’t a particularly large amount, but in such a small venue they wound up taking up almost as much space as the crowd. More upbeat than the previous act, they reminded me slightly of Emmy The Great, and to my pleasant surprise they managed to be twee-sounding without being annoying. The intimate lounge-type setting which had worked so well for Kristin McClement was slightly counter productive for a band more upbeat (which Laish were), and it was a bit of a shame that dancing was out of the question, especially during ‘Enraged’. The vocal harmonies were fantastic and suited the music wonderfully well, but sadly they only occurred very infrequently – I would have liked to have heard more of this. ‘Pirates’ had to be one of my favourite songs, a 6/8 sea shanty which ebbed and flowed like the tide but without being all “Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum”. ‘We Speak The Mantra’, however, contained possibly my favourite lyric of the night; “You’re on a train to Warrington and there are strange people there”. Asking for a beer early on in the act, the singer was slightly astonished to find one being passed down from on high (well, from the gallery above the stage) by a seemingly disembodied hand. The beer was good, though, and they dedicated their last song to the hand in question (apparently called Rory). The night seemed to be turning into some sort of competition as to how many people could fit on the stage at any one time – Climbers boasted 9 people initially, and brought on many more – seemingly a different guest vocalist for every song, although that’s only to be expected from what is, at the heart, a collaborative project. Launching their new album tonight, The Good Ship, they were playing a rare live performance that was definitely not to be missed. The venue was packed out now and sitting was out of the question. The crowd were very appreciative, but also slightly possessive, and seemed more concerned with getting a good view than enjoying the music (making photo-taking more than a little difficult). I don’t really know how best to describe Climbers – they were incredibly atmospheric and emotional, at times transcendent, but at other times, such as when the singer was debating whether or not to take his socks off, they brought you back to earth with a jolt. The string section (I adore the fact that they have a string section) was excellent, playing high, ethereal drones that lent a wonderful atmosphere to the music. And I do love listening to a band where the instrumentals are every bit as important as the vocals. More than one song boasted instrumental sections that were a good few minutes long, rising and falling, soaring in a manner that couldn’t help but make your emotions soar with it. It was climactic without being pretentious – it was as though the music simply couldn’t do anything else at that point, and so seemed natural rather than gratuitous. Although this lack of pretension was probably helped by the fact that they were playing in a boat on the South Bank in front of friends and family who were clearly loving it, rather than in a basement in the East End surrounded by hipsters incapable of showing any outward sounds of enjoyment. The whole evening couldn't have been less ‘scene’, and I loved it. Finishing, unsurprisingly, with ‘The Good Ship’, the band asked everyone to dance along, which they did with as much gusto as possible given the size of the venue and the number of people there. A wonderfully exuberant performance, it suited the setting perfectly and was clearly loved by everyone there. A fantastic end to what had been a brilliant night.