22 Apr 2015

5 GIGS, 5 DAYS (live reviews)

Round 1 : The Vaccines at Norwich UEA
Strutting confidently out through bright white and blue light, matching Levis donned and hair neatly combed, the Vaccines were greeted to a hero’s welcome, frontman Justin Young effortlessly commanding the room into a raucous singalong of Teenage Icon. The momentum continued seamlessly into Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra) and the sense of youth from the audience was reflected in Young and guitarist Freddie Cowan’s playful stage personas, Cowan beaming ear to ear with a leg up on an amp, Young pulling faces at some of the younger fans in the audience. Ghost Town and latest release Dream Lover were more bassist Arni Arnason’s territory and underneath a brooding façade, the sheer power and volume of his sound were magnificent. A brief opportunity for breaths to be regained came from All In White where Young’s vocals were untempered and powerful, the sense of prowess was obvious; something special was being witnessed here tonight. Handsome and newbie 20/20 brought new spirit to the crowd as drummer Pete Robertson upped the pace dramatically, Cowan and Arnason backing Young enthusiastically for the infectious chorus “I’m through thinking ‘bout you / I’m through-ooh-ooh thinking ‘bout you”. Perhaps the most magical moment came during main set closer Family Friend when the crowd participation reached dizzying heights and Justin Young could not be heard over the screaming crowd. Bringing the whole gig to a close was the barely-2-minutes-long-but-always-crazy Norgaard, and it finished proceedings off perfectly. (8.6/10)

Round 2 : Courtney Barnett at Norwich Waterfront
Courtney Barnett makes the sort of music you would never associate with a 5ft tall, 27 year old Australian. Full of attitude and wit, her debut album blew me away and when presented with the chance to finally see her live, how could I say no? She opened with Elevator Operator, the first in a long line of fast-sung tracks that tell a story over the top of a killer riff. Primarily showing off the diversity present on her debut, drifting between dark and gloomy ballads such as Kim's Caravan and Depreston, which explores the horrors of a mediocre life; versus the much loved first singles like Avant Gardener and History Eraser. The main set came to a close with a song that I would go as far as to say is possible the best song released this year so far. Pedestrian At Best. The lyrics are as witty as anything and she whips through them faster than you can imagine. On record it's great. Live, it is something else, the atmosphere exploded and the crowd went crazy. 100% the perfect set closer. (8.5/10)

Round 3 : Superfood at Heaven, London
The second of Superfood's two headline shows in Birmingham and London took place in a gay nightclub on the banks of the River Thames. Hundreds of denim clad teens swarmed into the venue with high hopes of what the night would bring. Before Superfood even took to the stage, we knew the crowd was going to be a good one. Support came from Black Honey and Yak, both of who whipped up a major frenzy despite a large percentage of the audience being fairly clueless about who these bands were. Superfood came out and following a brief exchange of pleasantries, the chaos restarted as the opening chords to You Can Believe began. The set was full of their most adored tracks, with Bubbles, Melting and Right On Satellite spawning massive cheers and singalongs. "WHO TURNED OFF THE TV/IT WASN'T YOU/IT WASN'T ME"  rang throughout the entire venue as the main set came to an end. After rapturous applause and football chants galore, the band walked back on stage to play two more songs. Ending with their first -and possibly most famous- track, the oh-so-creatively-titled Superfood. This gig showed off just how far Superfood have come in such a short time and it was truly magnificent to see. (9.2/10)

Round 4 : Wolf Alice at Cambridge Junction
Wolf Alice round 10 took place in a venue I had previously seen them supporting Swim Deep in. But this was not the same band. The Wolf Alice I saw back then were a million miles away from the confident and independent band that strutted on stage to rapturous applause. Opening with your oldest and most adored single is risky, but as soon as the opening chords to Fluffy echoed through the venue at breakneck speed, the risk paid off. It didn't matter what songs Wolf Alice played that night, the crowd were up for anything. Striking the perfect balance between much-loved classics and teasings from their highly anticipated debut album, [My Love Is Cool] the band were on absolute top form and it's truly jaw dropping to see how far these four have come since I first saw them three years ago. Ellie's voice is breathtakingly powerful, especially on new songs such as Soapy Water and You're A Germ; and the musical talents within the boys have grown and grown and grown. Closing with Moaning Lisa's Smile and inciting one final burst of mania, Wolf Alice walked off stage to a heroes farewell, one they had certainly earned. Overall this gig was simply phenomenal and it is truly an honour to have watch this band progress in the way they have. (9.8/10)

Round 5 : Claws at Norwich Waterfront
Local band Claws caught my attention with their 90's sounding surf rock tracks when I saw them for the first time back in November, so when they announced a headline show at one of my favourite venues, I knew that it'd be the perfect way to round off our five gigs. The always-energetic four piece ripped through a short set containing old singles, new songs off their fantastic EP and even had time to throw in an un-named new track. Overall, Claws absolutely crushed it and the crowd full of their friends, family and fans created one hell of an atmosphere. Definitely a band to watch. (7.9/10)