Live

The War On Drugs assert their legendary status at Liverpool’s Mountford Hall 

08/07/2024

A journey of epic proportions.

It’s often felt like The War On Drugs haven’t been able to do much wrong in their two-decade career so far. Since their celebrated breakthrough with 2014’s ‘Lost In A Dream’, every move that’s followed has crackled with palpable beauty, mystique and wonder. In scaling-up on their own terms, the Philly heroes have become an all-conquering beast in the live arena, capable of tackling the biggest of stages with the wind in their plaid shirts and flowing locks. 

Given their sprawling sun-soaked Americana has often felt tailor-made for sunset festival slots, it’s compelling to see how the band tackle the first of two sold-out nights inside Liverpool’s student union. A long overdue UK headline date off the back of their fifth studio album ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’, the band pour intense meaning into every second of their two hour show.

Opening with the shimmering technicolor synths of ‘Up All Night’, it’s immediately clear that frontman Adam Granduciel is capable of coating even tonight’s darkened sticky venue in a golden hue. In its simplest form, this is music to take you on a journey. The band flow through epic hits like ‘Pain’ and ‘Red Eyes’ with complete gusto - as they always seem to do best - and the songs hit like a wild American breeze blowing straight through the soul.

The War On Drugs, Mountford Hall, Liverpool The War On Drugs, Mountford Hall, Liverpool

It’s the perfect tonic for weary festival heads in the crowd who need to recharge their batteries from early summer excesses, and Granduciel’s Springsteen-esque vocals are the centrepiece of it all. He doesn’t skirt around the big questions, either: “Is life just dying in slow motion or getting stronger every day?” he asks with adrenaline, over the title track from their latest LP. 

Having had well over two years to incubate now, it’s heartening that some of the night’s biggest reactions come in response to their most recent recorded material. There’s raw and breathtaking beauty behind sprawling anthems like ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ and ‘Harmonia’s Dream’; particularly in the latter's case, a swirling sense of euphoria meets a triumphant fist in the air spirit, as Granduciel thunders “Sometimes forwards is the only way back / To reach the hill of time.” 

At one point, an anthemtic football singalong to the melody of ‘Under The Pressure’ goes some way to showing just how much this band mean to those who’ve shared their steady pathway. Their two-hour set never wanes, instead ebbing and flowing like a great American road-trip, summoning every emotion in the process. In a climate when so many of their guitar-wielding peers take the easy option, The War On Drugs' technical brilliance and investment in their art remains a vital breath of fresh air.

The War On Drugs, Mountford Hall, Liverpool

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