It’s felt like a lifetime since I last went to a gig. Okay, bit of an over exaggeration; so in reality it was probably about six months but for me, that’s far too long. Expectations were high for this one as I was off to see one of my favourite bands who I hadn’t seen before, in a new venue I hadn’t yet been to.
Speaking of which, before I go any further I have to say that Mama Roux’s is the coolest venue I have ever been to. Its intimate vibe and New Orleans-themed decor really made for a fantastic setting for the night ahead, with tiered seating and good views wherever you were placed. Other venues should take note of this place, there was absolutely nothing plain or sterile about Mama Roux’s. Just take a moment to Google it and you’ll see what I mean.
Having found a well-placed seat on the second tier, local indie-rockers Wood and Nails took to the stage. It’s always hard for a local band for make an impression when they’re drafted in as the opener but not on the tour and this was very much the case here. The venue wasn’t especially busy at this point but their generic indie sound failed to really leave any lasting impression. Like, it wasn’t a bad showing by any means but it just failed to really hit the mark. Unfortunately, while it was a rather forgettable performance, it was a decent showing that was at least inoffensive on the ears.
Crying on the other hand were anything short of unforgettable. I knew nothing of them beforehand but when you see drums, a guitarist and a lone vocalist take to the stage you know it’s going to be something a bit different. Even as I write this, I still don’t know how I feel about them. Their sound was definitely what I would call indie-punk, but with some 80’s synth thrown over the top of it. It sounds like a recipe for disaster but they somehow made it work. It was a captivating performance and whilst it wasn’t my sort of thing and I most likely won’t be adding them to any Spotify playlists, there was a certain charm to what they did.
I’ve waited about two years to see The Hotelier. They don’t seem to frequent these shores very often but I am a big fan of each of their three full length releases and hell, I had the highest of expectations. What followed though, was an hour and a bit of absolute emo magic in the most perfect of settings. Opening with An Introduction To The Album and leading into The Scope Of All Of This from 2014’s sublime Home, Like No Place Is There, their setlist was absolutely faultless.
Right, before I go any further, I have to address my growing frustration with people who talk throughout gigs. So, there I was, enjoying a wonderful performance from a wonderful band and appreciating that I was seated at a gig for a change and to my right was a group of young ‘uns who for fuck knows what reason, felt the need to talk to each other throughout nearly all of The Hotelier’s set. Like, seriously, why the fuck were you even still there? Presumably you only turned up for Crying which is fair enough, but if you have no interest in the headliners then go the fuck home. Your eventual departure was greatly appreciated and I hope you’re never in attendance at a gig I go to ever again.
Anyway……basically, The Hotelier knew exactly what I wanted to hear across their two most noteworthy albums. Latest album Goodness was the best album I heard last year and the likes of Piano Player, Two Deliverances, Soft Animal and Sun were all note perfect and dripped with pure emotion. They even played a couple from 2015’s underrated re-release It Never Goes Out and although I feel they could’ve picked better songs from that album (Lonely Hearts Club, ahem…) it was nice to get some of The Hotel Year thrown in there. In fact, it just showed how far they have come since it was first released in 2011 and how fucking good Home… is an album. Songs like Your Deep Rest and Among The Wildflowers were pure singsongs and when they played with Dendron….I couldn’t have asked for a better closing song.
Coming back out to the most undramatic encore ever, they took a few audience shouts for their last song (whoever called for Sic Transit Gloria...is a legend by the way). Opening Mail For My Grandmother was chosen over Goodness, Pt. 2 which was probably my only criticism but that can’t take away the fact that the evening was exactly what to wanted it to be. An absolutely stunning performance from an equally stunning band, full of emotion, passion and in the most perfect of venues.