Review: Thekla Bristol, 29/03/2014

Joel Huckfield reviews Amber Run, Nottingham’s answer to Coldplay, who performed to a crowded Thekla last week.

Saturday night’s at Thekla are always filled with a sub-standard evening of chart infused pop music, out of time sing-a-longs, and arms around your best mate moments at the club night ‘Pop Confessional’.

Before all the antics of that began, Thekla tonight showcased one of Britain’s new hotly tipped bands,  Amber Run. The band themselves originate from Buckinghamshire, but formed the band in Nottingham as university students. The band is made up of Joe Keogh (Guitar/Vocals), Will Jones (Guitar), Tom Sperring (Bass), Felix Archer (Drums), Henry Wyeth (Keyboards). All were all childhood friends, except Henry whom them met later.

Thekla closed their tour, and they’d also been playing as the main support for Kodaline on their headline tour, demonstrating the rapid rise of the band that includes landing a major record label deal, Radio One airplay, more than 100,000 views for their single ‘Noah’, and being tipped as ‘Nottingham’s answer to Coldplay’ (No pressure, then…).

All the proceeding buzz about the band brings a solid crowd to the top-deck of Thekla, in which the crowd is packed with mums, dads, teenagers and grandparents. For many of those in the crowd, Amber Run’s music was arguably unfamiliar to them, and yet their reception was inspiring.

The set itself felt relatively short, which included EP track ‘Little Ghost’ that brought a cheer from the keen young faithful following at the front. The newest single to date ‘Heaven’, is face-paced energetic track that reaches a climactic chorus sounding very much like early Coldplay.

It’s incredible to think they’ve only been playing since December 2012, and the set itself felt solid: the tracks stood out from one another, including a heartwarming tune that as Joe (Guitar/Vocals) nostalgically cooed in his introduction to the song, was about wanting to go back to visit Nottingham and remembering the band’s time spent there as students. Like their fellow Notts contemporaries in Saint Raymond and Dog Is Dead, their lyrics came across as heartfelt, and certainty gained them a like-ability factor amongst the crowd. On several occasions, the band continued to thank the people in Thekla for coming, which showed their importance as a band to have their audience’s approval. It’s perhaps how awe struck they all are of people taking a liking to their music so quickly.

The band were at their strongest when the vocal harmonies came in. The quieter sectors of tracks, such as the set closer ‘Noah’, saw Joe sing ‘Life’s for living right’, before the crashing of the guitars and drums brought a triumphant chorus. Other stand out songs on the night included ‘Spark’, which will feature on their next EP, out on 21st April. The track itself reminds myself of the band White Lies, in which the vocal harmony chorus repeats ‘Let the light in, let the light in’ before the thump of the drums set the track out for a chaotic finish.

Amber Run are still relatively new into the music world and their live show just showcases their raw talent and love for just creating music. They clearly enjoy what they do, and perhaps the cynicism around bands such as Kodaline and Bastille in which Amber Run has been compared to is very unfair, as on tonight’s  show proved, they certainly have a bright future ahead of them. As the line in ‘Noah’ says: ‘Get busy living, or get busy dying – I would hate to see you left behind’.

Perhaps the words are suggesting to seize the moment, which judging by their performance at Thekla, Amber Run are achieving to a high degree.