24th February | SWX

I always think the sign of a good gig is when you turn up not knowing who the support are and leave wanting to buy their album and that was the case with ISLAND on Friday. The four piece from London took to the stage early after Meadowlark broke down en route to the show and treated the audience to a mix of heavier rock riffs and delicate melodies. Ever so catchy and so very passionate, I would definitely see them again. I was just left wondering if the singer got the long hair requirement memo. Apparently not…

As Amber Run took to the stage, an electrifying energy exploded through the crowd and high pitched squeals from their female fans could be heard above the raucous clapping and foot stamping. Amber Run kicked off the night with ‘Spark’, an old favourite from their debut album 5am. The crowd religiously chanted the lyrics let the light in’ as they clapped, arms above heads through every chorus.

The slow and sultry ‘Stranger’ brought the tempo down as they played out the second single from the album, followed by ‘Fickle Game’, one of my favourite tracks from the new album For A Moment. Injecting some much needed life back into the room, ‘Just My Soul Responding’ would appeal to the Bastille fans in the crowd, with that uncanny driving bass drum and climatic verses.

As the distinct, chordal piano reverberated through the room, everyone fell silent and the beautiful ‘5am’ sent shivers down our spines. The slow build up everyone knows and loves was carried particularly well through SWX’s surprisingly good sound system, with Keogh’s voice perfectly wavering above the band.

The set came to a close, ending on a high note with ‘Heaven’. But of course, the song everyone had been waiting for hadn’t been played and fans yelled for an encore as soon as the band exited the stage. After a few tense moments, the band returned and to my great surprise, kicked off their encore with ‘Haze’. I had already convinced myself that it wasn’t part of the set list, but in hindsight, how could they not?! It’s strikingly different from anything else from they’ve done and beautifully raw, I just didn’t want it to end.

Finally the moment we were all waiting for. Keogh addressed the audience, asking everyone to put their phones away for the next track, the unmistakeable ‘I Found’. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as the rich, sustained notes grasped the attention of even the most inattentive fans. It was one of those moments you wait for so long and then before you even realise, it’s over and all you want to do is relive it.

Not wanting to end on such a sombre note, Amber Run thanked the crowd for their continued support and finished the night with the much heavier, ‘No Answers’.┬áIt’s no secret that Amber Run have had a pretty tough year which was only reiterated when Joe Keogh told us that there was a time when they didn’t want to make or play music. I left loving a new band and appreciating Amber Run a whole lot more.

Check out the video for ‘Haze’ below.