The George, Andover
It was my first trip to Andover tonight and what other way is there to break the ice than to witness Welsh pop rock masters Attack! Attack! back in action after a recent break. Front man Neil Starr hasn’t been sitting still though, as whilst contemplating ideas for the band’s third studio album which they are set to record in July, he took to the road with fellow musician Gavin Butler from The Blackout to tour their side project acoustic album as solo artists.
Surprisingly the venue seemed pretty full shortly after doors had opened, which can be partly put down to the relentless promotion of Dom Patience of Chalk Ink Promotions, who has captivated a superb lineup of shows in Andover following the departure of iBar from Bournemouth, with bands such as Deez Nuts and While She Sleeps set to grace the intimate venue later this year.
Opening the night were three piece indie pop outfit, Daylight Fireworks, who started off with most of the intimate venue filled. Despite the obvious percentage of the crowd being there to see them, this didn’t transpire as a confidence booster and the band lacked conviction for virtually every song in their set. Their vocal work possessed the right ideas, but in practice it hardly shone out much as they would have liked and it seemed as if they were at a band practice, rather than grabbing their chance at a decent support slot with both hands. There were glimmers of class through evidently well structured songs, but again, the lack of conviction in their performance meant that they could only bask in a silhouette of their true potential. There is something there for this band; they just need to act like they want it.
The Salisbury based band These Days probably realised it was up to them to “take the power back” as Rage Against The Machine once said. They don’t sit around in their introduction and warm up the crowd with their pleasing edgy pop rock vibes. The last time I checked these guys out was when they supported Ten Second Epic (one of my favourite bands) at the Joiners in Southampton where they met deadly silence following most of their songs (due to the crowd more than their performance), but today is a new day and they seem much sharper following decent applause between songs and a much more inviting crowd than last time out. A particular highlight for me was “Brightest Eyes”, a well structured song which truly exposes the bands stomping rhythm section, intelligent guitar work and potent vocals. Playing more and more shows will only benefit this band as they continue to obtain notable support slots at local shows, so keep them in mind for the future.
Main support tonight comes in the form of Welsh pop rockers Straight Lines who have received notable reviews in most of the mainstream press at late, with the likes of Rock Sound magazine hailing their new album “Freaks Like Us” as a triumph. So with confidence likely to be soaring high, the band turned a few heads as they broke into a set filled with a fusion of sweeping melodies, massive chord sequences and an expressively flawless vocal display. If I was to describe their sound, it would probably sprout as Wales’ answer to Twin Atlantic with a touch of the angst of Biffy Clyro. It was evident that their reputation is already spreading at an impressive rate, as a group of the crowd sang along to their memorable choruses. There is definitely serious potential for this band, as their youthful image does not mirror their intelligent song writing and their performance certainly matches many previous touring bands I have seen who possess much more experience. Make sure you make the trip to The Joiners to see them on their UK headline tour this October, you won’t be disappointed.
So now it was time for Attack! Attack! to emerge from their hiding place and show an expectant crowd that it was worth the wait to see them back in action once again. Well, I can tell you now that it was one hundred percent worth the wait, as opening song “Not Afraid” indicated that their potency on stage has not wondered off anywhere fast, as there were moments where if you had closed your eyes, you would have not been able to differentiate their performance from the studio recording. Songs such as “Honesty” and “Blood On My Hands” had the crowd in good voice as the bands confidence only grew, with songs from their first two albums sounding more and more impressive through their set, executed with superb fluency. As the band kept belting out classic after classic it could probably be agreed amongst the crowd that the UK has missed this band. They are an independent working powerhouse bringing their music to the masses through their own sweat and blood, and final track “Latest Fashion” highlights Neil Starr’s hatred of the music industry, probably echoing my concerns for our generations seemingly never ending desire to feed off of the over saturation of synth driven, auto tuned filth which dominates our charts week in, week out. As Neil belts out “F**k this and the latest fashion, no time for giving in” I can’t help but smile, as this performance has well and truly highlighted that this band deserve every ounce of praise coming their way. Oddly, their encore doesn’t happen in the fashion it was expected to with Neil emerging from the backdrop following the beckoning of the crowd, which didn’t follow with any other band members, so Neil performed a solo cover of Foo Fighters’ classic track “My Hero” as he did on his solo tour with Gavin Butler. It was definitely an odd ending to a superb display, but nonetheless I am sure everyone will agree that Attack! Attack! are back in full force. Bring on the new album!
Words by George Fullerton.