o2 Academy 2, Birmingham
By Glenn Rossington
Set relies heavily on the new album ‘Troubled Times’, but this is not a bad thing when you consider they have just completed an 18 month campaign on and off the road in support of the 15th anniversary of debut album ‘All Change’. Anyone expecting a repeat of that tonight would be disappointed. The bonus is that against the handful of older tracks they do play tonight, the new record stands up incredibly well. ‘Troubled Times’ sees the band recapturing a sound they lost between ‘Mother Nature Calls’ and ‘Magic Hour’. They have a passion for playing again and it is clear to see this played out in the dynamics between the band members on stage.
John Power’s vocals sound stronger than ever tonight and his new haircut (compared to the shaggy appearance he had last time they played Birmingham in 2010) does him wonders on a visual scale. The set is openend tonight by lead guitarist ‘Skin’ coming on stage alone and bashing out some majestic riffs. The rest of the band walk onstage and launch straight into recent single ‘Time Bomb’ from the new record. They capture a new audience instantly, I don’t think you could have predicted the set tonight but the revitalised band are giving everything they have into these tour dates.
Lead single ‘See That Girl’ sound epic and well rehearsed as you would expect, but new tracks such as ‘The Sky’s Got A Gaping Hole’, ‘Bow Down’ and ‘Not Afraid of The World’ not only show the maturity in their songcrafting, but a more developed sound as a live band.
It is however, the old favourites, the band perform tonight which gain huge cheers from the vibrant crowd. ‘Sandstorm’, ‘Finetime’ and ‘Guiding Star’ are the anthems of yesteryear but can still hold their own well. ‘Walkaway’ is the classic it always has been, always triggering memories of Euro ’96 capturing that heartfelt moment when we crashed out of the competition.
The final song of the night is ‘History’. The room literally shakes as soon as that velvet bass line kicks in sandwiched between the awesome and feisty guitar lick. The jubilant crowd are seen to be ‘going a bit nuts’ for want of a better phrase. The last minute decision to downgrade to the Academy 2 was wise. It emphasised their sound and let the old fans know that there is plenty of life left in this band. They are rejuvinated and seem to be here purely for the love of finely crafted songs. Shame on those who didn’t get tickets, but for those present here tonight, it was awesome! Plain and simple.