Augustines | Live Review

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From the moment the band appear on a somewhat dramatic, smoky stage, it’s clear throughout the whole show that they have nothing but passion for what they do.

If any band deserves success, it’s Augustines. Although, judging by tonight, it seems like they’re happy enough already. Packed out with dedicated fans, the Trinity Centre swells with huge singalongs and raw emotion.

From the moment the band appear with huge grins on a somewhat dramatic, smoky stage, it’s clear throughout the whole show that they have nothing but passion for what they do. The curfew says 22:30 but they play well past that – they’re onstage for almost two hours.

The first half of the show is composed of songs from both the dark 2011 debut album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ and the recently released eponymous album, all played with an unbelievable energy that never fades. ‘Cruel City’ is a thousand times more epic live as it is on record, bringing the first of many deafening crowd singalongs of the evening, it has a joyous, uplifting sound compared to some older material.

Singer Billy McCarthy is something special – clad in a waistcoat and moustache, he looks like a ripped, American Marcus Mumford. He is down to earth, self-deprecating and naturally hilarious – but unafraid to unleash a frighteningly powerful voice full of emotion at any second.

The band do an exhilarating run-through of ‘Ballad Of A Patient Man’, which sees McCarthy spinning around the stage with his guitar and doing hilarious victory laps around the band when it’s over. Then with a shy grin he tells the audience they are “louder than Manchester”, and the crowd melts with adoration further when he dedicates a song to a young girl at her first gig. This is in the form of ‘Philadelphia (City Of Brotherly Love)’ – and it’s played acoustically, which brings out the painfully descriptive lyrics about McCarthy’s late brother.

Too many cynical critics have jumped to call Augustines Springsteen rip-offs, looking for stadium success just because they have a mighty sound and a knack for writing a great chorus. Actually, they’re just four guys showing that you can make the best out of a bad situation. An MTV interview with the band sums it up; “we are living proof that things can get better, opportunities can come your way and that is worth celebrating! We are jovial, energetic people who want to enjoy life and I think that’s what you see when we perform.” It’s unfair to accuse the band of having ulterior motives than just doing what they love, and the optimism they give off live is inspiring.

Even the songs from the troubled debut exude positivity live with such brilliant crowd interaction, when McCarthy’s contagious happiness is visible and real. He treats the crowd like a big bunch of old friends, and jokes about someone calling their show a “value gig”. “Fuck that, I’m a value human!” he laughs.

After the encore things seem a bit haphazard – McCarthy seems comically confused to return onstage to a spontaneous guitar and horn jam. They leave the stage and join the crowd, for a new kind of intimacy. They thank a man called Steve for buying them a pre-show drink – who then almost starts a fight with a noisy drunk youngster for drowning out the un-amplified band with over the top cheering. They play a few songs before being demanded more, and they finally finish on the beautifully uplifting ‘Now You Are Free’, which starts in the crowd and ends onstage with everyone chanting the chorus – ‘what am I running from, myself and everyone’.

Leaving, it’s impossible to get over how much the band put into it – a “value gig” indeed.

Check out ‘Chapel Song’ right here: