The Joy Of Sax....
Abel Raise The Cain + The Mexanines + Serinette, KU, 12.12.14
I feel like I should be submitting a 'sorry this is so late' note here, since this has taken almost two bleedin' weeks to write. Due to the pesky lurgy and all its associated yuckiness, this review is to be my last live review of 2014. Luckily the year has ended on a real high. The date is December 12th, the venue is KU, the place is packed and there's a stellar lineup with their names in lights over the bar that are just itching to hit the stage.
Serinette started the show with a bang. Lauded by many as a band that are at their best live, tonight was the first time I'd got to see them in action - and they really deserve that reputation. From funk-tinged opener Roadshow And The Hitchhiker all the way through to final song Pushing Me Slowly everything was punchy, tight and energetic. Singer Lou has a voice that manages to be soft and powerful at the same time, stage prescence by the bucketload and a surprising amount of energy considering she is absolutely tiny. During Turquoise World (up there with Russia as my favourites of the night) there's an appearance of an instrument not seen since my childhood - the melodica. Awesome (and so flipping catchy that I'm humming it now as I write). New single Bigger Better is due for release in the new year and went down well with the crowd. The whole set's been upbeat, musically spot-on and so damn fun. Can't believe I've not seen them sooner!
Next up were The Mexanines - another first for me and a band I'd wanted to tick off my list for a long time (not just because they're from my hometown of Bradford....that's just a bonus). Opening with Fires set a moody, atmospheric tone and showcased the bloody impressive falsetto of frontman James. There's so much talent in these lads, which has resulted in high-profile support slots for the likes of Embrace and The Pigeon Detectives, along with wide critical acclaim. Plus, they have a sax. Who doesn't love a sax solo? Venturing out from behind the keys, Richie played the hell out of it and left everyone slackjawed. Shimmer remains my favourite song with its big riffs and sheer volume, but that sax....
All too soon it's midnight. It's Abel Raise time.
Having loved their music for a while, I first saw Abel Raise The Cain this summer at the sadly-no-longer-in-existence Stockton Weekender festival (sob). Their style of sweeping, melodic, anthemic tunes was perfect for the big stage and sounded amazing. Watching them at Doc Browns in Middlesbrough not long after, though, something was missing. Maybe it was the sun. Maybe it was an off night. Whetever it was, the shine had gone a little. Thankfully - really thankfully - the sparkle was back with a vengeance tonight and the band were on top form.
Abel Raise do epic really bloody well, building up from breathy beginnings to a crescendo of noise, melodies soaring as the choruses ring out and the fans holler along. There's a guy at the front in his element, dancing like nobody's watching and loving every second (I reckon they owe him a pint). Songs like Black Swans and Too Late have been played to death in the office over the course of this year and I still love them, but it's The Promise that now stands out as my favourite. Closing the show with a powerful, lingering finish, it has the perfect mix of crashing chords and quieter lulls, beautiful lyrics and the gentle lilt of a violin to enrich the sound further. I was left with my ears ringing and a smile on my face as the last notes faded out.
So, it's Christmas and a time for reflection. Thanks are needed, firstly to tonight's bands - and KU - for being ace, but also to everyone who's been around this past year to write about, chat to or interact with, plus a massive thank you to anyone who's read my stuff - and a medal to anyone that made it to the end of them.
Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. Be good.