There are some concerts that we simply go to on a whim, some that we have planned for ages in advance, and every so often a band comes along that you would drop everything to go and see. Having missed out twice already on seeing Amber Run, seeing the lads up-close and in their element was already long overdue. They have long been my white whale, the one that got away. However, with their new album For A Moment, I Was Lost surpassing all expectations and launching headlong into contention for album of the year, there was no power in heaven or Earth that would stop me from catching them on their latest UK tour. I made my way to their gig in Sheffield for what was sure to be a night to remember.
Packed into a smaller side room in The Plug which I’ve never been in before, the crowd was rather intimate compared to some of their other recent stops, but it was in no way lacking in enthusiasm. One of the things that really surprised me about the night was just how much music was packed into such a short space of time. We’ve all been to gigs where you have to wait for what feels like a geological age between the opening act and the main event. Tonight however it was like the whole team was operating at 110%, with barely a stray moment between each awesome act.
Up first were the wonderful Meadowlark. It’s been a few years now since I first caught them at Barn on the Farm, and they have really progressed in that time. I recall them having a more folky vibe when I saw them last, but their sound has since evolved to include more electronic elements, more akin to Oh Wonder in style, but with Kate McGill’s vocals being just as exceptional as ever. Next up we were treated to a performance from Island. Their heady soundscapes drifted between hazy dream pop and full on wall-of-sound aggression at the drop of a hat. The music, and their performance on the night, was of an enviably high standard, although I feel they still need to find that special something to set them apart.
When the time came for the main event, Amber Run delighted the Sheffield crowd with the perfect mix of new tracks and old favourites. Tracks like the bright and bubbly ‘Good Morning’ and the gorgeous harmonies of ‘I Found’ had the crowd all singing together as one voice. Newer cuts like ‘Perfect’ and the final song of the night ‘No Answers’ saw the band giving it their all, letting loose and performing as though it was their last night on Earth. Frontman Joe Keogh talked briefly about the band’s recent hardships, about how they didn’t know whether they would be able to continue and about how their new tracks originated from that dark frame of mind. The crowd however were having none of it! No talk of disasters that might have been would ruin the night’s atmosphere, everyone was there to listen to a band that are at the top of their game. They took already excellent album tracks and kicked them up a notch.
Needless to say the band were definitely worth the wait. With two amazing albums to their name, Amber Run have quickly become firm Belwood favourites. Studio sounds and live performances are two very different beasts, but after a gig that good it was clear to see the band have both sides of the story on lock. With their consistently brilliant output, their love and dedication to their fans, and the fact that they play each gig like it’s the most important thing in the world, they are doing everything right. Finally getting to see them live has just secured my belief that they are one of the best British bands in years. Catch them if you can, they’re worth it…