Live Review: The Night Cafe – Liverpool

The Night Cafe

O2 Academy Liverpool, 5th May 2017

Words: Gary Lambert

Most of the time it is natural to leave a gig with a refrain or lyric from the band’s final song ringing in your ears. It’s quite unusual to have a song that you’ve not heard in almost twenty years on the tip of your tongue. Yet as I left the scene of The Night Café’s triumphant hometown gig, the picture of a night that was so evocative of the eternal excitement of youth made me think of Blur and Damon Albarn singing “other people would turn around and laugh at you if you said that these were the best days of our lives”. This hot, steamy night in Liverpool’s back street O2 Academy was for those fans crammed to the front of the sold out gig was exactly that.


As I walked up the stairs I overheard a young squire announce loudly to his date for the night “that’s a fine pint that”. She was quite impressed with his appreciation of the overpriced dishwater that his big brother had probably purchased for him, so I quickly found another place to stand that wasn’t a crowd scene from Skins where I bumped into one of the promoters, exchanged some pleasantries and was told “watch out for this singer” as The Bohos were taking to the stage. In all honesty, I was at that point disappointed that Bloxx had been supporting The Night Café elsewhere and not Liverpool, but as the promoter faded into the roar of the teenage hordes, my spidey-senses started to tingle.


The voice cut through the music like the noise of a chainsaw in a previously silent forest. Part growl, part choirboy. It was captivating and reminded me of the latter days of Oasis when Liam’s voice got better as the songs got worse. The singer was able to let rip but without losing diction or direction. It almost made me side tracked from the rest of elements that made up the molecule of their performance. But generally the band were tight, sharp, and as you would probably expect for a young band with good musical skills they were a little on the safe side. But for an act playing in front of their peers and their parents, it was an exciting support set.


In fact, given the older members of the audience only came in mainly during the turnaround between the bands I think people missed out in a big way by having an extra pint somewhere cheaper.


By the time The Night Café took to the stage, the mood had become almost frenzied. If you have not seen this band play or at least listened to them, then it might take you a good thirty seconds to understand why they create such a feeling. But in all likelihood it is going to take much less than that for you to fall under the spell of the ketwigged kings. Their youth makes you surprised at their multi-faceted pop songs which effortlessly follow one after the other. As the entire audience, even the collection of mums and wannabe girlfriends who videoed every second, sang song after song it did not matter if it was older numbers like Addicted or Mixed Signals or if it came with the prefix of “this is a new one we want you to try”. The Night Café make songs that you can sing along to after listening to one chorus. They are stealth sounds seeping into the brain whilst you are sucked along with the simple bobbing of the tune, there is layer upon layer of gorgeous guitar and hours spent rehearsing and learning getting taken in.


As the sweat soaked supporters roared at the end of the gig, I looked around and was taken back in time to my days in the same venue when it was called The L2. The styles and technology may have changed, but great music is great music, and having the vitality and confidence which comes from being young and going out to celebrate being able to go out every weekend is always the same. Youth isn’t wasted on the young, it’s just sometimes people forget what really makes days like this. It is the risks you take; from getting in early to watch an unknown support act, to dancing with someone you fancy and hoping they didn’t spot you looking at them as The Night Café sang “I’m addicted to you, I’m addicted to you”.

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