It’s been quite a year for Welsh wonders Dream State. Not many bands have seen a growth so rapid, and 2019 will inevitably go down as a big one for the quartet. Debut album Primrose Path has been out for only a matter of weeks, and tonight was a sold-out end to a packed-out UK tour in support of it. With support from Swedish firecrackers Normandie, tonight was primed from the start to be a gig highlight of the year.
As frontman Philip Strand’s birthday and bassist Lucas Englund’s last ever show with the band – tonight was quite a milestone for Normandie. From the time the band walked on stage, excitement was thick in the air. Opening with ‘Enough’, it was hard to remember that they were just a support band and not supposed to be the reason everyone was gathered here tonight.
With so many fantastic songs to choose from in their catalogue, it’s a shame that they were only able to play nine. Hopefully, they’ll be back soon on a headline tour so that we can hear more – judging by tonight, there’s certainly a demand for it. New song, ‘Jericho’ was known word-for-word by some in the crowd, despite being as-of-yet unreleased.
The whole crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Philip, a cake was brought out on stage, and no sooner than he blew out his candles was he ‘caked’ in the face with it. Not a bad way to spend a birthday, despite being covered in frosting.
Normandie absolutely stole the show. Ending on Collide, the atmospheric ballad was the perfect way to draw to a close such an important show for the band. Lucas had his last rockstar moment and smashed his bass – as much as he could – into the stage. Who knew those things were so hard to break in real life?
Saturday night in central London was now fully underway, and a sold-out show meant that the venue was absolutely packed solid. A stage set with round orb lights was soon home to Dream State. ‘Made up Smile’ was the opener everyone had been waiting for, and the room was electric. People were watching from outside the room and in the doorway – any which way they could get a glimpse of the action.
Charismatic but simultaneously shy frontwoman CJ Gilpin has a way of bouncing around the stage that’s both entertaining and deeply enthralling. Keeping a stage presence as healthy as she does while managing a pitch-perfect vocal performance is not an easy feat, but something she does effortlessly. Venturing into the crowd at one point, I was almost concerned she wouldn’t make it back out – the crowd were hyped.
With so much passion and energy in each song, not a note was misplayed, and the band never faltered, even towards the end. After ‘White Lies’, the band went offstage, coming back for an encore of ‘New Waves’ and crowd favourite, ‘In This Hell’. Not a voice in the room was silent, and even the seated patrons upstairs were going wild – probably stretching a few health and safety regulations and making security a bit stressed. When it was all over, drummer Jamie Lee crowd-surfed, only to be pulled off the stage by security after trying to get back on it – a perfect rockstar moment ruined by slightly overzealous security.
Tonight was a top-tier performance from both bands and felt like a co-headline show. Love for both bands is as strong as ever, and it seems they’re both very much on their way to really big things.
Check out the full photo gallery here.