Live Review

Brand New, Roundhouse, London

This evening’s setlist could include just about anything and with this band, we’d expect nothing less.

Brand New are, if we’re being honest, a bit of a wonder unto themselves. Straying from press, ignoring regular release schedules and playing shows how and when they want, the Long Island band are now almost as mysterious as they are adored. And so, when they announced that they would return to the UK in early 2012, the word ‘excitement’ could only be a gross understatement.

Opening this evening are favourites The Xcerts. Taking the opening slot in their absolute stride, they sound more confident and at ease than ever before. Their ‘Scatterbrain’-heavy set is dark and brooding, yet filled with enough distorted noise to completely sway tonight’s audience with their Sapone-produced offerings.

I Am The Avalanche are, in comparison, entirely different. Fronted by The Movielife’s Vinnie Caruana, their set is littered with gravelly pop-punk tracks that would probably fit more alongside Brand New circa early-2000s than present. Bounding around the stage, they keep energy high but as soon as their time draws to a close, all focus instantly shifts to this evening’s headliners.

The last time that Brand New graced our shores in 2010, their visit was marked with a one-off, sold out show at London’s Wembley Arena, which just so happened to be their only appearance in support of latest effort ‘Daisy’. Thus, three years on from said release, they have no record to push and no new material to debut. This evening’s setlist could include just about anything and with this band, we’d expect nothing less.

As the lights go down, you can almost taste the anticipation. Emerging in a sea of white lights, the band begin delicately, and as the opening riffs of ‘Welcome To Bangkok’ become more recognisable, the music swells and crashes, an intricate soaring of instrumentation.

Dropping straight into another track from ‘The Devil And God…’, the audience roar with gratitude as ‘The Archers Bow Have Broken’ begins, the whole room already singing along. A similar pattern emerges throughout, as each track is greeted with cries of happiness and smiles that only grow as the set continues.

Guiding the audience through eras of their career, the band seem entirely content to be playing older material. ‘Deja Entendu’ classics such as ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades’, ‘The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows’ and ‘Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t’ are met with huge singalongs, whilst the three tracks from their debut – 2001’s ‘Your Favourite Weapon’ – explode with a more harnessed version of the malicious teen intent they bore so well.

Nostalgia aside, their newer tracks shine bright; the ‘Daisy’ inclusions are layered with complex guitars, distortion and the vocals of frontman Jesse Lacey being pushed right to the edge of their limits. Embodying a perfect feeling of catharsis, it’s so effortlessly portrayed by the Long Islanders, who seem to be honestly enjoying their evening at the Roundhouse. Lacey even takes time out to thank the crowd – a change for someone so usually quiet during performances - reiterating that if it wasn’t for their loyal fanbase, they simply wouldn’t be here.

Returning to close the set with a series of tracks from their arguably definitive third album, ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Degausser’ are both poignant and beautiful, and before we even realise, the intro to ‘You Won’t Know’ signals that tonight is complete. As Lacey stands centre stage for the last chorus, looking out into the hundreds of people singing back at him, he mutters one last line before dropping the microphone to the floor and the echo fills the room. It’s in that moment that all we can wonder is when we’ll meet again, and what could possibly be in store for us next.

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