Circa Waves- Under The Bridge, Chelsea (Live Review)

How Circa Waves didn’t win at the Q Awards is beyond me. One of 2015’s most up-and-coming bands, the foursome have been all over the indie scene and dominated the festival circuit this year. With a penchant for big guitar riffs and heart wrenching lyrics, their album Young Chasers was rammed full of summer tunes. It was therefore perfectly released in March to spread their infectious music across the nation, and by the time June rolled around their name was on everyone’s lips.

While the band are more familiar with much sweatier and cramped affairs, tonight they make the swap from a dank underground cavern into (get this) a jazz bar. Not even just a jazz bar: a luxurious jazz bar, a luxurious jazz bar under Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge. Tonight it’s a sell-out but only half capacity, making for a more exclusive feel to go with the occasion.

In support is Max Jury, whose delicate melodies are the perfect contrast for what we witness later on. With smooth piano lines and a vocal that glides across the keys, he’s a warm-up for sure, but not the one we expected. The increasingly popular ‘Black Metal’ gets an outing, while the Paolo Nutini-esque ‘Christian Eyes’ gets the tears going across the crowd. Essentially the setlist falls under the category of “songs to arrive to”, and as he leaves the stage the onlookers politely applaud, saving their energy reserves for the headliner.

Surprising everyone by being the first band in musical history to come on stage early, Circa Waves produce a blistering set that doesn’t let up throughout. Opening with the album’s title track, they rifle through their material with the vigour of a band who want to play all night. Sadly their mere 35 minutes with us contradicts their antics onstage, but you’ve got to have quality over quantity for a free gig.

Albums tracks ‘Get Away’ and ‘The Luck Has Gone’ are always warmly welcomed by their core fan base, and it’s the same tonight. After a barrage of sound and a few pints go flying, frontman Kieran Shudall queries if anyone made it to their Brixton Academy gig recently: most of the crowd cheer in reply. “This one was meant to be for you guys” Shudall murmurs, before the touching ‘My Love’ commences. After, he briefly mentions that the lighting set up is exactly the same as they had at the gig in SW9. To cram something on that scale into a venue that’s dwarfed by Brixton Academy is an achievement in itself, but in turn this certifies the show is alight with strobes and glittering spots.

‘Fossils’ and ‘Lost It’ pander to the masses with their anthemic choruses, but of course the famed singles get the crowd fully in the zone. As ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ gets underway, a unified shriek rises up and hordes of bodies begin to hurl themselves around. This continues into the finale of ‘T Shirt Weather’, and ensures the once glamorous Under The Bridge downgrades into your typical weekday-gig basement under a pub somewhere. However this is what we’re used to, and it’s certainly a setting where Circa Waves have reigned victorious. As everyone tears off their wristbands and snatches at the free copies of ‘Q’, it’s clear they have conquered here as well.

By John Kuzara