Canterbury @ The Joiners 20/10/2010

Upon entering The Joiners in Southampton from the crisp weather outside, you could be forgiven for thinking you might have accidentally stepped into a college leavers do, since there are probably only a handful of people here old enough to remember Wayne’s World being in cinemas. But despite this fact, the show tonight at The Joiners is entirely sold out and totally packed to the roof, and the atmosphere is exactly what you would expect from this.

First up tonight is City Stereo who, for the first band on the bill, have a surprisingly dedicated audience. They start off the evening with their bouncy, New Found Glory-style bass chuggery riffs crossed with Taking Back Sunday melodies and, not too surprisingly, a similar style of stage-strutting. Even though their lyrics seem a bit drama-heavy, it will be interesting to see how City Stereo develop in the future considering the reaction to their opening gambit tonight.

Nic Matthews, the singer of Southampton locals The After Party, may look like he just rolled out of bed for this show, but luckily they don’t play like they just woke up! In fact, when they play the catchy, sing along chorus of Keep Me Waiting, the crowd start to wake up more as well. The After Party certainly put on an impressive show, but whether this is down to their clever use of lighting and strobe effects or not will have to be seen at future shows.

When the lights dim and The Duel of the Fates from Star Wars begins to play, the crowd instantly knows that this heralds the arrival of Southampton’s own pop-punk success story Not Advised. As expected, the crowd erupt when they kick their homecoming set off with their latest single release, the epic Right Now, and everyone starts singing and dancing along to their riotous punk rock anthems. Fan favourites A Red Light Situation and mass crowd sing-along tune Jane Says Left closely follow, and get the crowd chanting the words right back at Jim Thomas, the ring leader of this pop-punk circus. Although they don’t indulge their fans with their fantastic cover of Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror, they do announce to their hometown crowd that they will be headlining this same venue in February before playing themselves out with their first single The World’s Not Ready, which does a great job of getting the crowd suitably hot, sweaty and bouncing like a roomful of excitable Tiggers. If this is the future of home-grown British pop-punk-rock, then the future is in for an ass-kicking!

Tonight’s headliners Canterbury only take to the stage after a misleading dimming of the lights and music get the crowd falsely excited, but the crowd still go appropriately bat-shit for their brand of indie-twinged pop-punk when they do. “There’s a temperature gauge up there, when we came in it said 27. By the end of tonight, we want it to be at least 35!” announces their singer before they plough into latest video release Calm Down. Although Canterbury look like they should all still be sitting their A-Levels, there’s no denying their ability to get a crowd pumped up and moving when they play Take Me Out Of The Wall and get the crowd to be “the loudest human piano in history”. The fact that The Joiners is sold out tonight is a testament to how well they have been doing, and this could be down to the fact that they released their last album Thank You for free online nearly a year ago, so it clear that word spreads fast and furious like wildfire around this lot. At the end of the set, they rather honestly and bravely announce to the crowd “This is normally the point where we pretend to walk off and let you guys cheer us back on and play some more songs, but we’re not going to do that, we’re just going to play instead!” much to the pleasure of their ravenous fans at the front of the stage. Before they play their final song Friends? We’re More Like A Gang their singer announces that this sold-out crowd is a dream come true for him and his band mates. And clearly, if they keep doing what they’re doing now, these dreams will keep coming true for a while yet!

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Twin Atlantic @ The Joiners 10/02/10

“I’m not going to even give that an answer,” says Twin Atlantic’s frontman Sam McTrusty to whomever thought it was clever to shout “’Mon the Biffy!” at them in between their first songs. And he’s completely justified in doing this, too, as Twin Atlantic (though from the same town of Ayrshire as Biffy Clyro, and mastering in a similar brand of angular rock music as them) have been trying hard to make a unique name for themselves. And they’re not just trying hard – they’re succeeding…

But before tonight’s headliners take to the stage there’s local band Until We Sleep, added to the bill for tonight. As soon as they begin their set, their influences are clear – their jerky, chop-and-change, At The Drive-In style rhythms and sound are attention grabbing, but the lighter tint to their songs makes for a more interesting listen, and sets the evening off on the right tone. And with an upcoming Maida Vale set for BBC Introducing…, it might be worth keeping an eye on them for the future. Not bad for a band of self-professed “laziest bunch of bums”.

 Touring support Canterbury have clearly built up an impressive following after big-time support slots. Their synth-led pop-rock is so happy and perky, you’d have to be a manic depressive to not watch them. Or, apparently, above the age of 20. The band themselves are all floppy-haired and bouncier than rubber balls, which is fine for the younger members of the audience that are perhaps feeling nostalgic for Panic! At The Disco, but the people that came for the headliners seem to need more impressing.

This tour has apparently seen Twin Atlantic draw some thinly spread crowds at some venues. No wonder, then, that they give this show 110% for the crowd that has gathered and completely filled the space at The Joiners tonight. As Sam McTrusty (who coincidentally, has the best name ever!), Barry McKenna, Ross McNae and Craig Kneale take to the stage, they thrust straight into You’re Turning Into John Wayne, which immediately gets the crowd moving and singing along as they do for the rest of the evening. Every song announced tonight is met with applause and cheers, and the same goes for two new songs that no-one here could possibly have heard before! Such is the fevered reaction to Twin Atlantic’s presence tonight, that even the technical difficulties that plague their entire set don’t dampen the bands spirits at all. They simply laugh it off, sort it out and play another song – Twin Atlantic came to play a show, and they’re clearly determined to do it!

Current single Lightspeed and crowd favourite Audience And Audio make for a good show as they’re what people have turned out to see tonight, but the surprises truly come when guitarist Barry McKenna puts down his guitar and picks up a cello for two beautiful numbers (including Vivarium closer Better Weather) mid-set. So tense is this atmosphere that when some kid tries not once but twice to crowd-surf during these songs, they both simply stop playing and watch him until his mates put him down again before carrying on. “Don’t get me wrong, I fully endorse crowd-surfing” says Sam McTrusty in his thick Scottish accent, “but when we’re trying to make a genuine connection, you just end up looking like a fool!” It’s not that Twin Atlantic are overly artistic in the slightest, it is simply that they’re so passionate about giving these shows their all for the people eager to see them play. “What about the muses at the back? Are we impressing you yet, or do we need to work harder?” is some more of Sam’s banter throughout the evening, “See, we love you guys at the front because you’re passionate, but it’s the muses at the back that buy CD’s.”

Original breakthrough single What Is Light? Where Is Laughter? is met with huge applause and promptly sets the crowd singing along again before they announce their last song and are met with an almost pantomime “awww” from the crowd. The smiles on the faces of every member of Twin Atlantic have steadily gotten bigger and bigger throughout the evening, and by now they’re grinning from ear to ear and you can tell that they are genuinely passionate about their work tonight. “Thank you so much for coming out tonight, we really appreciate it” is almost a clichéd term for bands now, but by the look on Sam McTrusty’s face, you know he means it!

Twin Atlantic have worked hard to be able to sell out this venue – and if they continue to write songs as amazing as these, and their up-coming US tour goes well for them, you know that they are destined to get much, much bigger in the future!

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