As frontman Gustav Wood pointed out repeatedly throughout the night, it’s a while since Young Guns have played in Nottingham. Clearly, they have been missed: there was a tangible sense of mounting anticipation in the crowd during the wait for the band to come on. The response of the crowd when they finally appeared on stage was nothing short of bedlam.
The High Wycombe-based five-piece have been building up a legion of adoring fans since the release of their first EP Mirrors in 2009. Over the course of three consecutive albums, they have developed into a mature alternative rock outfit with a wealth of crowd-pleasing tunes. Bones in particular, from the 2013 album of the same name, is a standout track that brought the band critical acclaim and allowed them to make the step up to venues like the iconic Rock City.
For this tour, however, the band have returned to more intimate settings, and chose to visit Rock City’s neighbour, the smaller but equally thrilling Rescue Rooms. Despite the polished style of recent album Ones and Zeros, it is evident that Young Guns still know how to put on a visceral, sweaty show. The ferocity of opener Rising Up made the band’s intention clear from the start: to get the whole room moving. Without having to resort to desperate pleas for the crowd to “open the pit up” like other bands, Young Guns let their music do the talking, and consequently the crowd went wild. Gustav Wood is a showman without being contrived, balancing just the right amount of crowd interaction with stunning vocals and passionate delivery. His vocal performance on slower tune ‘Lullaby’ proved his merit as a singer, and created a moment of tranquillity amidst the chaos.
“It is evident that Young Guns still know how to put on a visceral, sweaty show”
In addition to Gustav, the other band members played like their lives depended on it. The sweat dripping from drummer Ben Jolliffe was enough to cause flooding, and bassist Simon Mitchell’s facial expression was one of a child on Christmas morning. The band’s hard work was rewarded by the crowd singing back every word, particularly to newer hits ‘I Want Out’ and ‘Speaking in Tongues’.
With four records’ worth of material to choose from, selecting a set-list for a performance just over an hour long was never going to be an easy task. Perhaps understandably, the set is dominated by newer material from Ones and Zeros; although these songs are undeniable crowd-pleasers, a few older songs would have satisfied old-school fans a little better. Despite this, the band unearthed forgotten gem ‘Daughter of the Sea’ from Mirrors, proving that they haven’t quite forgotten their roots.
Towards the end of the set, the band announced that they will shortly be re-entering the studio to begin work on their fourth full-length album. With their sound getting gradually more arena-ready and expansive on each album, who knows where their next tour cycle will take them? One thing’s for sure: Young Guns are firing on all cylinders.
Image: Paul Hudson
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.