The floppy haired and off-beat Allusondrugs were first to take to the stage with their angsty vibes and positive energy. Carrying a casual air they led the crowd through their pop-grunge sound from the down-low and grimy ‘I Should Have Gone To Uni’ to the seething and psychedelic ‘Am I Weird’.
From quirky to clean cut, Tall Ships’ turn on stage marked a significant leap in genre. The smooth and uplifting ‘Will To Life’ gave lead singer Rich Phethean a chance to showcase his fantastic vocals. Their music is determined and harmonious, with a good level of catchy, and they are a band worth seeing again.
We Are The Ocean stepped on stage bang on time and radiated enthusiasm from the first note. Vocalist Liam Cromby gave the crowd a challenge, “the louder you sing the more intimate we get”, and this command was taken up without hesitation. With boundless energy and soul the band dove into ‘What It Feels Like’ and song after successive song without a moment’s hesitation. Their early encouragement has the jubilant crowd singing and clapping ready for the enveloping sound of ‘Holy Fire’.
The night took a poignant turn as Cromby told a personal tale of his Grandfather’s passing, and dedicates ‘Confessions’ to his memory. In reflection of the bands line-up change in recent years, the latter and other tracks lack the scream element heard on the original versions. Whether this is an improvement or not is down to personal taste, but palpable tenderness in the room showed that these softer versions aren’t unwelcome.
The openness and humility that We Are The Ocean express on stage gives their music something that can’t be felt anywhere else. Songs that feel flat on first listening are filled with strength and passion by their ecstatic delivery, and the room was wall to wall with excited faces.
As their set drew to a close, the band threw in their cover of London Grammar’s ‘Hey Now’ as first performed on Radio One a year earlier. It was then the turn of Cromby to offer another touching tribute, this time to the band’s sound guy who was leaving them to travel the world and have a baby. His send-off came in the form ‘Waiting Room’, which proved to be the biggest song of the night. The band built and built their delivery, broke to teach the crowd the words and then burst into a triumphant final chorus with every soul in the room singing back.
The night ended on an unabashed encore and a series of cheeky but heartfelt thank yous from Cromby and the band. Their dedicated fans were played out with acoustic track ‘Chin Up, Son’, giving the crowd one last chance for a sing-along. We Are The Ocean are a band that have perfected the art of playing live to a T, and their music is a pleasure to experience.