Gig review: Don Broco at York Barbican


Niamh Kitson (she/her) reviews Don Broco's "energetic" performance at the York Barbican

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Image by Credit: Georgie Williams

By Niamh Kitson

Rock-titans Don Broco headlined the York Barbican on December 11, 2023, as part of their ‘Birthday Party Tour’. After listening to their live album released last month, I had high sonic expectations going into the gig, but did not expect to be so blown away by the relationship between the fans and the band.

Most of the crowd garrived at the venue early, so there was already a significant audience for Aussie band Ocean Grove, who opened the show. Their set was definitely worth a watch, it was packed full of energy. The second support act was Trash Boat, who were great at firing up the crowd through lots of interaction, such as getting the audience to chant along to their latest single ‘Liar Liar’.

Finally, with the crowd fully warmed up, Don Broco took to the stage. Being the last tour of the Amazing Things era, it was fitting that the opening song was ‘Gumshield’, the first track off of the 2021 album. This was followed by two other tracks from the same album, ‘Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan’ and ‘Uber’, before moving onto ‘Come out to LA’ from Technology – a tune which has been stuck in my head ever since the gig.

Before the show, I’d seen on the band’s Instagram that frontman Rob Damiani would be rocking a neck brace throughout the show. At this point in the set, he addressed the elephant in the room (the neckbrace) by demonstrating his newest dance moves which he could do with minimal movement. He still managed to retain a significant stage presence, and his voice meshed beautifully with drummer Matt Donnelly.

2022 marked the ten year anniversary of Don Broco’s debut album Priorities, and the band seemed dedicated to honouring these older tunes in the setlist for the tour. Prior to the tour, they had not played ‘Fancy Dress’ live since 2017, and its return to the setlist was welcomed by fans. The same goes for ‘Yeah Man’ – the beautiful acoustic rendition of this was a real highlight in the set. The stripped-back version of the song was a complete shift in energy and it illuminated the beautiful, leafy set behind the band.

Being centred around their latest single, ‘Birthday Party’, a fun, exciting part of the tour was that anyone whose birthday it was on the day of the tour could get tickets for free as well as giving fans the opportunity to nominate their friends for a ‘birthday party’ with the band complete with cake and balloons. Before playing ‘Birthday Party’, Damiani shouted out one of the fans that they had met – a lovely touch showing that the band also got enjoyment out of meeting their fans. Afterwards, they played ‘Everybody’, taking the energy up another notch just before the band left the stage,

The first song in the encore was the 2022 single ‘Fingernails’, with the long-build up to the drop at the chorus being a dream for any mosh-pit lover. The set finished, as always with ‘T-Shirt Song’. It was clear that it was not most of the crowd’s first Don Broco gig as they immediately took off their T-Shirts to call upon the line “I take my T-shirt off/ Swing it around my head”. A perfect, energetic and heartwarming way to finish the show.

Playing despite injuries and offering free tickets to fans, Don Broco exemplified a dedication to playing live and delivering a show for their loyal fans in a manner that was second to none. I have not seen a band and audience connected in such a beautiful way in some time and I fully understand why fans keep going back for more.