The Nottingham-founded indie-rock band returned to their roots on Saturday October 5th, playing to a crowd of eager old fans and proving their worth to the new. Amber Run brought spine-tingling rock as well as emotional ballads which left not a dry eye in the audience.
Fans arrived in dribs and drabs at first, but the balcony quickly filled and the ground floor followed suit, packing Rock City for the arrival of the night’s support act, Stereo Honey. The alternative four-piece band are touring with Amber Run, this performance being their second of thirteen, and despite being new to many in the audience they were perfectly-matched to drum up excitement for the headlining act.
“They were perfectly-matched to drum up excitement for the headlining act”
Reminiscent of other alternative bands like Seafret and Aquilo, Stereo Honey was brilliant, the vocals of lead singer Pete Restrick complimented by the percussion-heavy beats. Although not as engaged with the audience as Amber Run, ‘What Makes a Man’ and the sultrier ‘You’re the One’ had everyone bopping their heads. The crowd may not have known all the words, but Stereo Honey’s set drew loud applause.
“Keogh had an electric presence, switching from a more static hugging of the mic to moving across the stage and bathing in the roar of the crowd and the skill of his bandmates”
But the applause was even louder when Amber Run finally stepped onstage. Marching into the light, lead singer Joshua Keogh shouted his greetings to the crowd, reflecting the band’s pride and excitement at returning to the city where they met at UoN in 2012. They quickly launched into their set, and the crowd enthusiastically sand along. Keogh had an electric presence, switching from a more static hugging of the mic to moving across the stage and bathing in the roar of the crowd and the skill of his bandmates.
Guitarist Michael Blackwell was a clear standout of the night, playing with a prodigal level of vigour, sending the room into frenzy with each solo. Drummer Glyn Daniels and bassist Tom Sperring were a solid duo, providing steady beats and vibrant notes that complimented every lyric. Keyboardist Henry Wyeth harmonized with Keogh, extending the music to electrifying heights one moment, and juxtaposing the drumbeat with electronic-inspired chords the next.
“Guitarist Michael Blackwell was a clear standout of the night, playing with a prodigal level of vigour, sending the room into frenzy with each solo”
The best songs of the night were ‘Noah’, when the crowd sang back without prompting, causing Keogh to stop and watch with a huge grin on his face, the haunting ‘Fickle Game’, and thoughtful ‘What Could Be as Lonely as Love’. ‘Amen’, from the 2018 EP The Assembly, cut the show in half, providing a slower-paced break to the gig.
Dedicated to their previous lighting designer who had worked for the band since their inception and had passed away six months prior, the stage was delicately lit by Otis Fidel and the crowd fell silent as Keogh sang from the heart. It was incredibly poignant, and seeing the raw emotion on each member of the band made it clear how important their music is to them.
“It was incredibly poignant, and seeing the raw emotion on each member of the band made it clear how important their music is to them”
Singing about death, love, and life, Amber Run did not falter, playing the oldies that made them well-known like ‘5AM’ to the newer tracks like ‘Neon Circus’ and ‘Affection’ from their most recent album, Philophobia. The sense of gratitude in the air was impossible to miss—Amber Run was thankful for their fans, for the city, and for the undeniable talent of each other, and the crowd was thankful to witness such brilliant performances first-hand.
“The sense of gratitude in the air was impossible to miss”
After bowing out, the crowd was in uproar, demanding an encore, and Amber Run quickly returned with three songs, including fan-favourite ‘I Found’. The final applause was long and loud and definitely made it clear that the band will be warmly welcomed when they return to the city.
“An unforgettable, engaging performance from an act well-worth keeping tabs on”
Although the gig was not sold out, this did not detract from the experience in any way. The crowd was lively and loud, much to the delight of the band, who seemed ecstatic to have the crowd singing back louder and louder with each and every song. The lighting was vibrantly coloured at some moments, simple and yet impactful at others, a tribute to their past and a thrilling promise for their future. An unforgettable, engaging performance from an act well-worth keeping tabs on.
Featured Image courtesy of Jenny Katte.
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