Friday 24 April 2015

Live Review: Amber Run, Clwb Ifor Bach Cardiff 23/4/15

"I'm quite a depressive person" exclaims frontman Joe Keogh to an adorning sea of wide-eyed faces. I guess that's partly the reason why Amber Run have become so accessible in recent months. With such heart-on-sleeve worn lyricism there's always going to be a relatable degree to some extend, yet the London via Nottinghamshire based group really seem to hit home with the majority of fans. It's with no surprise then to learn they've sold out their first ever headline show in the Welsh capital. And whilst not technically their first visit to Cardiff having supported Lewis Watson here last year, this was definitely to be their most personal yet and they weren't going to disappoint.

With temperatures quickly nearing boiling, packed out long before their arrival on stage, the flutter of eager conversation amongst fans ramped up the discerning atmosphere inside. Thankfully it's not long before the blinding of lights from all the girls taking selfies in front die out as the room became sunk into darkness. The regret of leaving my ear plugs sat at home on the bedside table was becoming all the more apparent as the sound of deafening screams filled out any sparsely remaining space amongst the band's emergence. Accelerating to much acclaim over the last few years, Amber Run have seen a continual rise in popularity as they've tentatively teased us with their in-depth cinematic embellished clips and immaculately turned out EP's, all in the lead up to their debut album '5am'. Tonight was to be a true showcase of ultimate triumph.

Getting things underway, with no guitar to hide behind, Keoh awkwardly fiddles with his hands in front of the mic, the emotive strains on his face clearly say it all though as the band kicked things off with a blinding performance of 5am - their emotive trajectories speedily creating a commandeering sway in the audience. Transposing from the studio to live setting can sometimes be a difficult feat to master but there seemed to be no trouble here as their rousing delivery transfixed the crowd in to early amazement with a setlsit made up predominantly of tracks from their recently released LP.  

Any hesitation or edginess quickly dissipates as Joe shouts "I'm so up for this", the biggest of grins radiating from his face. Right through from Hurricane's bubbling swells of feel-good notions to the tear-jerking lamentations on I Found, the energy inside hits a transcendental peak and never backs off, not even when the honest and raw delivery of Shiver makes a heavy-hearted acoustic appearance.

Throughout, the band's three-part vocal harmonies deliver on all their worth showcasing an incredible amount of talent, glazed faces from front to back hang on to each and every word - the biggest singalong of the evening coming with the crowd shouting back Noah's intro with the utmost of force before its rip-roaring percussion and guitars took ahold. On record, their songs have a unique dynamic juxtaposition with a driving energy meeting heart-rending sublimity head on. Let loose in a live environment though, these feelings only intensify further, effortlessly demonstrated as Spark, a track described about leaving their hometown in search of greener pastures, burst in to life. 

As the band slink off stage, only to return with echoing chants of “We want more", they seem only happy to oblige. Vastly taken aback by such a warmly received reception Felix, Will, Joe, Tom and Henry can't shake the smiles from their faces as they thank the crowd profusely.

A masterclass in ambition and self-control from beginning to end, there are few artists around that can translate with the transparency of Amber Run. Demonstrating unblemished vocal control alongside the band's precision in switching from heavy and loud to soft and subtle within an instant, the night comes to a faultless climax. I say it here, catch Amber Run whilst you still can at these more intimate shows because It won't be long before their selling out Academy sized venues up and down the country!

Support for the evening came in the form of Hitchin based artist Rhodes who slots in nicely amongst the band's encapsulating sounds. Not shy to a post here since first getting introduced to his music almost two years ago back in 2013, the sheer advancement in quality has been nothing short of mesmeric. Breathing ethereal life in to his recordings his almost falsetto breaking vocals quickly got the crowd standing to attention as the band rattled together an aspiring backdrop of fervorous percussion and joyous guitar work. Add in some strings and dizzying keywork and Rhodes' integral unmitigated talent really begins to shine. Tapping in to a vast Colosseum of stadium ready pop yet still clinging on to the intimacy of his early work, it's no mean feat to say I'm consistently blown away by his efforts. Let's hope an album isn't too far off.

Amber Run continue their tour at the following dates

24-Apr Liverpool O2 Academy 2 
26-Apr Oxford O2 Academy 2 
27-Apr York Fibbers 
28-Apr Nottingham Rescue Rooms 
29-Apr London Scala 
30-Apr Manchester Sound Control 
02-May Newcastle Think Tank 
05-May Belfast Oh Yeah 
06-May Dublin Academy 2


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