Deaf Havana *****
There For Tomorrow *****
O2 Shepherds Bush November 16th 2012
There are special moments in the world of rock and roll. And hell, probably in Crunk or garage-core-electro-dub-pop-punk too. But, without getting too carried away tonight is right up there.
Being quite an old sod, I’ve been to thousands of shows over the years. From festivals and dingy toilets to stadia and scout huts. But there’s an undeniable special thing in the air tonight. Really special.
Even half an hour before stateside openers There For Tomorrow ***** are due on, the proud old Empire is as rammed as a fat man’s pants. And probably just as sweaty.
When they eventually do take to the boards, the ridiculously enthusiastic throng gives them a welcome far in excess of they could have imagined. Or hoped for. Saying that, there’s such a vibe in the venerable old place that Jimmy Savile or Nick Griffin would probably have raised the roof and fizzed-up the knickers.
I haven’t come across There For Tomorrow so didn’t really have a clue what to expect, but they deliver an energetic blend of pop rock in a similar vein as mid era Lost Prophets but with more of an American twang than even old Taffy Watkins affects. And needless to say, it goes down like limitless free Blue WKD among the assembled excitable yoof. Oh, and the tune about deathbeds or something like that isn’t half bad.
I’ve probably been less than charitable about Canterbury***** in the past. Not necessarily directly, but by grouping them together with other melodic middle ground bands on the UK scene. Think Natives, (the late) Futures, Coastlines etc. So, I was hoping that they’ll be beefier and have a soupcon more edge tonight.
And they don’t disappoint. The crowd, rapidly reaching premature vinegar stroke help set the fire. And it burns fiercely and beautifully. Helped by a really good sound, the affable chaps bounce effortlessly through a compelling and thoroughly engrossing set. There’s a sophistication and an intelligence to their fare which truly puts clear water between them and the surrounding pack. And on tonight’s mesmerising and big-boned performance, it surely won’t be too long before they’re packing out rooms like this on their tod.
So, the starters are all consumed. Every seat, square foot and nook is rammed with expectant acolytes. That ‘special’ feeling is almost palpable.
I have to admit, the emotion is inescapable, and having watched these boys on many occasions in tiny bogs and shitty basements, from Ryan’s screaming days through to festival triumphs and countless support slots, I’m consumed by genuine pride. And there’s definite moistness in the old eyeholes.
A sold out headline show at a famous venue. This is what working for it really means. It brings into sharp contrast the celebrity machine and superficial manufactured anodyne bollocks our youngsters are led to believe is a genuine route to ‘stardom’.
Sweaty vans smelling of cocks and socks. Sleeping on floors; if you’re lucky. MSG, additive and salmonella-ridden petrol station cuisine. Playing to half empty rooms in the middle of towns you’ve never been to. Or probably ever want to again. That’s working for it. That’s a ‘journey’. That’s the downpayment. The rollercoaster ride. The investment. The sacrifice. No judges houses. Camp freak show choreography. Faux tears as fake as the judges tits. No, this is real. Really real.
And every single, ticket-paying merch-consuming loved up fan here tonight knows and appreciates that. This is the most perfect collective, co-created raised middle finger to the soulless self-consuming auto-tuned contrived manufactured poison. And I love it.
The boys arrive on stage to what can only be compared to the noise of a 777 in full thrust. In your bathroom. Unbelievable. Just as unbelievable as the opener – that alternative mandolin-fused jaunty version of The Last Six Years off the re-released masterpiece Fools And Worthless Liars. The place melts down. The band must feel like they’ve just had crystal meth mainlined into their bellends. Such adulation. Such energy. Such love.
Then, seamlessly, the massive group vocal opening to the catchier than chlamydia I Will Try further incites and excites the Dantean hordes. ‘Special’ doesn’t cut it. This is off the scale. And it’s not lost on the band. The always affable, honest and eloquent James Veck-Gilodi humbly and genuinely announces that it’s already the best gig of their lives. After two songs. And he’s not wrong.
I have fess up that I’m so caught up in the raw emotion, the power, the love and affection that being truly objective is now futile. All the big tunes are wheeled out. With every word sung back with an almost religious fervour. J V-G probably doesn’t need to sing at all. But when he does, his voice has never sounded better.
There are few lyricists in the business better than the self-styled grumpy drunken dwarf and tonight he uses all his verbal grenades to milk every last drop of love, pathos, sympathy, empathy and joy from his congregation. And they love it.
Anemophobia is the absolute highlight of the night. Starting with the stripped back, piano accompanied version and ending with the full band work out, every syllable is belted out with heartfelt meaning and that bloody moisture returns to these tired old eye bits.
I’ll even forgive the lads for hideously mutilating and heartlessly emasculating the old punkier fave, Friends Like These by turning into a mandolin-based camp fire Kum Ba yah sing-a-long. Saying that, it was still bloody good.
The passion never drops. On the stage, in the pit, right up beyond the clouds into the upper, upper circle. And when the lads bring on The London Gospel Choir, the heavenly metaphor is complete.
By the time the sublime and delicious Hunstanton Pier brings the love-fest to a jizz-puddle end, everyone is spent, empty, flushed, aching and satiated.
An amazing night in the company of a truly amazing young, honest and truly deserving bunch of blokes.
More tissues please.
No, not for that.
The Algorithm next.
More tunes soon. Bwoooar!