Monday 16 October 2023

Live Review: Hard-Fi, Bristol O2 Academy 15 October 2023

Hard-Fi. A name you probably didn't think you'd hear in 2023. After riding the mid-2000s indie wave, the band faded in to the background to pursue a quieter life amongst other things. After a near 10-year absence though, fans found themselves in luck as Richard Archer (vocals and guitar), Ross Phillips (guitar), Kai Stephens (bass) and Steve Kemp (drums) are back and headlining Bristol's O2 Academy, mid-way through a full length UK tour.

The evenings proceeding began with a vibrant and energetic set from Sunderland's finest guitar slinger Tom A. Smith as he rattled through hits from his recent EP series. Following the release of his recent single, Fading Away, the Tyne and Wear based artist has truly taken strides towards his all rounded pop perfected brilliance, and in the live setting it's no different ball game. Despite his guitar falling apart he held things together smoothly and soon had fans eagerly awaiting more. From Weirdo's punchy percussion to Like you Do's suave guitars and empowering sound, his well rounded musicianship is quickly gaining traction and it's clearly evident why. 

With the atmosphere suitably warmed, Staines-upon-Thames outfit Hard-Fi finally took centre stage. It's hard to believe it's been more than 20 years since their music took a firm grip on the scene, mainly as their classic hits have been a staple on indie disco dance floors up and down the country ever since and to the day. 

With a near-decade hiatus the band returned last year following some cryptic album art posters that teased their return around London's Underground. Now amidst a full run of UK tour dates the band look ecstatic to be back doing what they love as they smiled across stage throwing themselves through their back catalogue. Built predominately from their debut album Stars Of CCTV, the band throw in a curveball with a brand new single Always and Forever which sounded equally promising with hints of their early day sound. 

With much admiration for the fans throughout, Richard Archer made sure to acknowledge each and every member in the crowd who were equally keen to show their adoration with jubilant cheers. He seemed genuinely pleased to see so many people out that still supported their music. With such a long time away, I'm sure anyone would be apprehensive but he needn't had worried tonight. If the crowd singalong to Hard To Beat was anything to go by, it's as if they'd never been away.

Sadly as quickly as things began the band returned to the stage for a three track encore, ending with a hat-trick of hits as lead singer Archer vaguely waffled on alluding to the weekend. "You know what I'm talking about don't you Bristol" he shouted as they turned the volume up to 11 on arguably their most popular track to date, Living For The Weekend

Back with a new vigour, determined to squeeze every last drop out of a Sunday evening, Hard-Fi put on an impressive display of their performance abilities. They're certainly a band that's still got it. 


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