Live Review: Circa Waves: Liverpool

Circa Waves

EBGBS Liverpool, 5th April 2018

Words: Gary Lambert
Photos: Fiona Carroll 

Before I went beyond the world of being a music fan and started to write about gigs and pester bands about their opinions on life rather than just babble my congratulations in an overly excited manner, I had a very strong opinion of big business being involved in rock n roll.  If you guessed that I was against it all as a betrayal of the love, passion and art that can be created by two guitars, a drum kit and somebody shouting then you would be 99% correct.  I would actually have said that did not go far enough.  However, as I realised how skint bands usually are and how a bit of corporate sponsorship can go a long way (literally when it is paying for the petrol in the van), I mellowed out on the subject.

It is not just bands though who benefit from corporate sponsorship.  Nights like The Jack Daniels’ Homecoming gigs put a bit back elsewhere.  Firstly, to the lucky music fans who were able to attend the gig in a venue that could only hold about 8% of the crowd of Circa Waves’ last Liverpool gig night, they were able to take part in a night that was sure to be memorable AND they received a free JD and Coke upon entry.  And for the Live Music Trust, they were able to benefit from 100% of the ticket receipts for the gig to help keep what we love alive another day.

The Jjohns opened up the night at the unsightly early time of 7.45pm which meant that your correspondent unavoidably detained in traffic going to “the darts” and missed a hefty chunk of their set.  However, these incidents are not there to defeat us, but to make sure that I now owe The Jjohns a visit to watch their lid rock delights.  And they are ace every time I watch them play so I’m not going to stress on that debt.

It is one of my strong beliefs within music blogging that the experience of the committed music fan is far more important than my ability to review so for the first few songs I stayed standing in the overspill pretty much on my own as every Circa Waver squeezed into the main dungeon of EBGBs.  Listening to bands without being able to watch them perform though is one of my favourite things to do in tiny rooms like this as you can take in their sound without being engulfed by the experience.  I’ll hold my hands up now, this gig was one of my favourite experiences as a gig reviewer.  Like cyclists suddenly discover asthma as soon as they reach a certain level, bands develop a miraculous ability to inject energy into human beings as soon as they reach the correct combination of chords.  My pulse raced as Circa Waves cranked through high octane guitar pop song after high octane guitar pop song with their opening trio Wake Up, Get Away, and Young Chasers.  Even with a brick pillar in the way, I felt like enthralled by the band, and looking through the portcullis to the gig proper I was in the majority.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say only the bar staff were not caught in the tractor beam of Circa Waves, but that would be only fair as people need their JD and Ginger (try it!).

Once the natural ebb and flow of the crowd meant that everybody who needed to be at the front had slinked and pushed their way to their heroes, I took my place at the back of the room.  I had a better spec in the overspill to be honest.  Whilst I could see the heads of 50% of the band, the payoff was having to avoid falling teenagers discovering that high heels are not gig-suitable as it is impossible in a sweaty packed cellar to see the stairs that may very well break your neck.  A shoutout too to the young gentleman trying to drink a can of Red Stripe by biting the middle of it.  It was a curious style mixing indie staple dress sense and a WWE legend.  I christened him Stone Cold Stephen Patrick Morrissey.

However despite the myriad of people watching options, focus went quickly back to events on stage where Circa Waves refused to let their fans’ collective interest slip from their grip for even a moment.  For a band who are at the poppier end of the indie spectrum, it was loud and demanding.  And without doubt the most verve and vitality I’ve felt watching Circa Waves.  The grubbiness and closely compacted walls definitely suited their sound.  Often I have felt that Circa Waves have been a pop band forced to play in an indie style, yet this homecoming gig proved me wrong.  As they cracked into fan favourite T-Shirt Weather, I understood that Circa Waves are a strong rock n roll band that just happen to have the ability to craft pop tunes around the chords and drums.

 

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