Review – Refused / Thrice

Date: Thursday 31st October 2019

Venue: Manchester Academy, Manchester

Supports: Gouge Away

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Occasionally a tour will be announced that is so good that you buy tickets despite the fact that the band you are going to see aren’t ones that are regularly played on your music list. This is one such example of a tour with two of the most influential yet somehow underrated bands in the alternative scene playing the same stage on the same night as co headliners. With both Thrice and Refused it was interesting to see the mix in the crowd as both bands have a very different sound to each other and yet somehow everything worked to perfection. Unfortunately thanks to the drive from hell across the M62, I didn’t get chance to catch tonight’s support act hardcore punks Gouge Away which was a real shame as they were a band that I was certainly looking forward to catching. If you aren’t familiar with the band then I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, a personal favourite from them is R.O.T.

For the first of two hour long headline sets this evening were the Swedish punk pioneers Refused. Opening up with new album opener REV001 things started with a bang and by bringing the new album to front of set showed that they weren’t just living with their past success. Following up with ‘Violent Reaction’ kept the energy nicely flowing and was great to hear live after I’d put a bunch of plays into it on Spotify in preparation. Despite the new album sounding incredible, playing big hitter ‘Elektra’ early in the set really got the crowd moving and dancing along. Heading back to the newer tracks ‘I Wanna Watch The World Burn’ Which took vocalist Dennis Lyxzén Into the crowd all the way to the back which proved to be a very effective way of opening up the pit. Giving talks on serious topics such as capitalism and patrichy amongst others went out to approving crowds and it was good to see punk standing for something so strongly still. Saving the best track until last, it was no doubt that ‘New Noise’ would go down well to finish the set. As crowd in unison launched in with opening line ‘Can I Scream?’ Manchester Academy turned upside down with the sheer amount of people bouncing and shouting along the words. Pausing for extra effect before the last chorus Refused thanked the crowd as they were the reason the band could keep doing what they do. Launching back in it was clear how heavy the track hit and really ended the set on a high. It’s great to see that Refused unique sound is carried from their records and sounds just and incredible live and it just goes to show how talented of a band they really are.

Refused

Taking to the stage for the second coheadline set tonight were Thrice. Regularly described as your favourite bands favourite band, its no wonder that they deliver a fantastic show and having accidentally discovered them at Leeds festival back in 2016 so I was long overdue seeing them! Coming out to ‘Only Us’ showed the complete juxtaposition between the two headliners with Refused’s raw energy compared to the refined performance and intricate tracks of Thrice . By the second track ‘Image of Invisible’ the crowd were in full voice signing along with the chorus. It was clear that Thrice’s building tracks left the crowd in awe and new track ‘Just Breathe’ proved that booming across the Academy. Following this there was a huge crowd reaction to the opening riff of ‘Hurricane’ which got a huge tear and an even bigger singalong flying straight into  ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ after was one of the highlights of the night as the two tracks worked so well with each other. A couple of songs later the band cracked out arguably their biggest track ‘Black Honey’ which really showed just how tight the band were and how each element mixed so beautifully with the others. After a rousing performance of ‘The Earth Will Shake’ to start to wind down their set the band opted to finish with slower track ‘Beyond The Pines’ which somehow worked perfectly. It finished with somber tone but somehow worked and built on the fantastic set from tonight. As the band left the stage the crowd were left in awe at the end of Thrice’s phenomenal show. Despite having to follow a much heavier band it was clear that they could hold their own and by making the set focused on their deeper tracks they really used the earlier mentioned juxtaposition to their advantage. It would definitely be hard to find another band that refined and tight in a live setting, everything worked perfectly and really went to show just why Thrice are so many people’s favourite bands.

Thrice

Review – Casey ‘Its Time To Bury Our Love’ Farewell Show

Date: Thursday 9th May 2019

Venue: The Key Club, Leeds

Supports: Gatherers, Acres

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First band in tonight were Gatherers. The band were playing their first tour of the UK and unfortunately their lead singer was struggling with illness throughout the set. They took a couple of songs to find their groove in the room. Unfortunately just as things were heating up nicely during new track ‘Sick, Sad Heart’ they had issues with their mic cables coming undone and cutting the vocals completely. Whilst musically it sounded incredible there was certainly something missing whilst the band tried to sort the vocals out. A long pause to sort cables led to a lot of the crowd dropping off and the band needing to play catch up for the rest of their set! Not letting this set them back too much they continued on and managed to get back into their groove. With the band playing brilliantly and the cleaner vocals sounding impressive it led to a great ending of the set with the crowd all bobbing their heads along to the tracks and starting to warm up for the night ahead. Here’s hoping next time they come back to the UK they’ll have a bit more luck.

Next up were a Acres who were down a vocalist due to illness tonight. Coming out saying ‘Alright, we’re Acres’ was a very modest start to their fantastic set. Mixing things up through their set with tracks that had vocals provided by Zac Vernon from Parting Gift and tracks that were purely instrumental worked a treat and really showed how capable the band were of captivating the audience despite their setback. The band seemed to be working in perfect sync to really hit home the crushing riffs and dream-like guitars alongside the heavy non stop drumming. In a set that passed by far too quickly, Acres easily got the audience jumping along and banging their heads throughout their performance to set the crowd up nicely for the last band of the night. Having not heard them before they played tonight they’ll certainly be one that I’ll be checking out again in the coming months and keeping an eye on!

Acres

To say I was left speechless by Casey’s performance probably isn’t the best way to start this review but it’s certainly correct! From the first piano note of ‘Making Weight’ to the last screams of ‘Little Bird’ Casey really showed just what makes them so special and just what the music world is losing! With soaring guitars, crushing breakdowns, spoken word sections and huge screams from Tom Weaver the band really give everything 100% and it certainly shows. The entire crowd were surging backwards and forwards all set and even hit the point where the crowdsurfers had to be stopped due to the size of the stage and equipment being knocked over. Needless to say that the show was in high gear throughout with hits like ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ and ‘Bruise’ both getting huge singalongs. It was clear that these shows mean a huge amount to both the band and the crowd and with everything working perfectly it really was a pleasure to see.

Having sold out the show it was no surprise that everyone was here to celebrate Casey as they played their farewell shows. It really is a shame that these guys won’t be playing live again however it just means that we’ll have to spin their albums much more often to celebrate the perfection that they have. A genuine 10/10 show to really finish this chapter of their careers on a high and definitely one that everyone in the crowd will remember for a long time to come!

Casey

Review – Dream State

Date: 14th April 2019

Venue: The Key Club, Leeds

Supports: As Sirens Fall, Parting Gift

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Starting the night off were local band As Sirens Fall. Throughout the set they managed to cover just about every part of the alt-rock genre with their list of songs ranging from indie rock all the way to post hardcore. Unfortunately for the band the first few songs were a little muddy with everything sounding at the same level in mix. Luckily this didn’t last the entire set and as they worked through their set the talent and potential showed though. This was especially clear during their heavier tracks with the high vocals providing a nice contrast to the heavier music coming from the rest of the band. There was certainly no lack of energy from As Sirens Fall either as they spent the whole set running around, working the crowd well. A decent set from them as the opening band in preparation for the remaining bands to hit the stage this evening.

Having seen Parting Gift previously I knew the spectacle was about to follow. Going for an atmospheric post hardcore style similar to Dream State they came out to building synths and guitars. The mix of heavy and slow songs worked spot on with Parting Gift finding the perfect balance across their set. The crushing heavy parts were enough to get the crowd banging their heads before the incredible vocals came through to really show the range that the band have. Everything worked in the band’s favour with the crowd getting nice and involved throughout matching the bands energy. Finishing off the set with their top track ‘Asleep’ really showed just how incredible they are. A smashing support slot to build the crowd for Dream State and hopefully a sign of good things to come in the future for Parting Gift.

Parting Gift

The final band on stage for tonight were Dream State. After seeing these guys a few times over the last few years I knew that they were going to put on one hell of a show and given that the show was pretty much sold out it sounded like everyone was finally starting to realise just how good they are.

Coming out swinging right from the start with ‘New Waves’ it was clear to see that tonight was going to be a memorable one for both the band and the audience alike. Within the first couple of songs the crowd were jumping around and screaming the words at the top of their lungs. With the band clearly shocked at the amount of people that had turned up to see them they smashed through new song ‘Hand In Hand’ with perfection. Setting herself apart from most vocalists CJ showed just how much the songs meant to her, emphasising this with the emotion and rawness in her vocals really adding an extra layer to the performance. Alongside the set of songs from both EPs there were also a few surprises thrown in with a brilliant cover of ‘Crawling’ by Linkin Park which went down a treat with the crowd as well as a taste of one of the songs to come off their new album which certainly gave everyone a lot to look forward to when it releases. Packing that many great songs into a set meant that it flew by. This wasn’t helped by the fact it was a slightly shorter headline set than usual, however as they say – good things come in small packages!

With their debut album on the way shortly it definitely feels like this run of shows will really push Dream State onwards and upwards. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing much larger venues very soon and they certainly deserve it!

Dream State