by Ben Adsett
Not even storm Doris could stop Touché Amoré from filling the O2 academy Birmingham’s smallest room to capacity for an intimate sweat drenched evening of post hardcore.
The night started with a make shift opening set from Elliot Babin (Touché Amoré’s drummer) as Departure’s had to drop out due to illness (get well soon). As he took the stage, electric guitar in hand and meandered into songs by his side project Warm Thoughts, he created a lovely atmosphere instantly. There is a definite sunshine state feeling created by his combination of cheery riffs, positive lyrics and a surprisingly sincere vocal delivery. For a last minute replacement this is a great way to start an evening off, calming, warm and full of positive vibes.
Enter Angel Du$t to take this calm start and flip it on its head with straight up hardcore, from the off this set is nothing short of explosive. There is an intensity pouring from the stage and a relentless tirade of songs which cleverly document their back catalogue. The combination between modern and vintage hardcore has the entire audience hooked in from start to finish. As the set progresses the intensity steps up and with a lot of work from front man Justice Trip (probably Steven or similar to his mother) the crowd begin to step forward and dance along. The focus is constantly at the front of the stage. With a front man with such intensity it is rare to see a sense of humour, but with a swagger and a wry smile he pulls of some audacious dance moves. As the final note rings through the room the audience are left wanting more and this is definitely the sign of a great set.
With just the right amount of time to build expectation, Touché Amoré stormed the stage to ‘Flowers and You’ and every bit of expectation was replaced with pure hype. The audience screamed every word along with Jeremy Bolm and as the song finished the entire room took a collective breath. What follows is a flourish of near perfect performance from the band and the audience, this tiny room fills with noise and the temperature rises creating a tiny venue atmosphere. In such an atmosphere it is a privilege and a joy to see a band who hold such importance playing with such passion.
With recent release ‘Stage Four’ the band tackled the loss of Bolm’s mother, with such personal emotion within these songs it is incredible to see a smile grace his face. It seems like having a crowd sing along is a fitting tribute. Maybe these shows are almost cathartic for Bolm; however you look at it this record has taken this band to another level, the single focus of the album creates something really special. But despite being an album tour this is not just about ‘Stage Four’ there are three other important releases to visit before the set is out and to be honest the balance is pretty much perfect.
It is apparent throughout just how important the back catalogue is to the audience and there is barely a single word that isn’t sung back by the audience. This is credit to both their performance and song writing. Bolm is impossible not to watch throughout he prowls between the stage and the barrier including the audience where ever he sees fit and regularly embracing the front row to stay upright.
This stage presence combines with the water tight musicianship to create an incredibly accomplished live sound and a performance that will long live in the memory. In a night full of such emotion to leave the venue feeling predominantly happy and certainly blown away is as good a set of feelings as this audience could have hoped for.