• Emma

The Big One

Here’s the thing.

I’ve been torn about whether to write this or not. As you can see, all I have written about for the past couple of years is Apollo Junction, which I have no problem with apart from overusing the word ‘banger’. Can I be impartial about watching them rip the roof off Stylus last Saturday? Can I bollocks. Am I gonna do it anyway? Hell yeah…

After two albums, hundreds of gigs and countless hours growing their fan base and tirelessly interacting with them, Apollo Junction played their biggest headline gig to date last Saturday, at Leeds Uni’s Stylus. A thousand-cap cavern, the place soon filled up with AJ’s adoring fans (especially those on the front row giving it rock all - I see ya, fellow fanclubbers) as covers duo JimDam has us all singing along and Dave Hemingway’s new outfit, Sunbirds, brought a little Americana to proceedings. Weirdly, it turns out our friend knows Dave - they both live in the same Cheshire town - and he's in his phone as Beautiful Dave. Naturally, we ask him to let him know we loved the set!

One quick holler-along to Sweet Caroline later, it’s time for our boys. I’ve brought my cousin along with me tonight - an AJ virgin, so I pray he likes it or that’s going to fuck up Christmases forever.

I should never have worried. From the very first bassy blast of Light Up the Sky, through Born For Now and Porcelain, the energy leaps off stage. Mind, so does Jamie, more than once! Everything is tight, musically on point and delivered with pace, personality and a confidence I’ve watched growing over the last couple of years. This is a performance with swagger, but one that also feels intensely personal, despite the larger venue. I think the sheer amount of long-standing fans who have got to know them so well help. The lads feed off their energy, getting everyone dancing to Unknowns, pitting the floor against the balcony for Are You Happy? (Which, by the way, was massively unfair numbers-wise, even with my gob. Yes, I was on the balcony and yes, I *am* massively competitive) and getting the whole place going full falsetto to accompany On The Ropes. Honestly, it was heartwarming to feel so involved. So many bands will come on, play a set, get a little interaction going, but these guys really go for it and fully immerse everyone in their experience.

However, that wasn’t the most heartwarming thing to happen as we were all treated to an onstage proposal, one of the sweetest things I’ve seen for a long time and the perfect intro to Forever. Huge congratulations, Sam and Andy! ❤️

Are You Happy was the one for me. Aside from the sing-off, it brought back some very happy memories of the Warehouse gig, slightly squiffy, stood hugging my mate, swaying along and singing my little heart out. It took me about a month to listen to that track afterwards. As I stood there on Saturday, welling up like a silly twat, it made me realise just how bloody proud I am of these lads. They've come so far and they deserve all the success in the world.

This really was the gig that had it all - a hyped-up crowd, sharp performance, the skinniest jeans known to mankind, Ben’s incredible cheekbones, a cheeky bit of Born Slippy chucked into Born For Now, romance, an acoustic Rooftops in the middle of the crowd and hundreds of happy people willing the night to never end. It went far too quickly, just like the Warehouse gig did last year, and Birmingham next weekend can’t come soon enough. Ending with Begin is somehow perfect and the rapturous cheers say it all. It’s been joyful, and one of the first things my cousin says to me is that he wants to see them again. Cherry successfully popped!

So here’s over to you, if you’ve read this far. Firstly, well done. Secondly, I probably owe you a beer for sticking with it. But finally, what did you think of the gig? Send me your thoughts and I’ll publish them on here! You can email me at bleachandcologne@gmail.com or find me through the AJ Fanclub page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/283051453529397/?ref=share

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