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Photography: Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk

Circa Waves

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  • The Magic Gang
Mountford Hall 24/3/17

For any band that’s already broken into the music industry’s mainstream market, the infamous second album has to be one of the most testing things for a relatively new band to consider. Forget impressing record label heads and not fluffing it in front of your partner’s mum, producing a quality studio record that’s better than your first is definitely something easier said than done. Treacherous though post-debut album land may be, every so often a group of musicians will come along and prove every naysayer wrong, and then some. One such band? None other than the traditionally sun-spangled Liverpool lads, CIRCA WAVES.

Filing into an already crowded Mountford Hall to the indie-pop melodies of THE MAGIC GANG, it’s evident tonight’s Merseyside crowd aren’t messing about. As The Magic Gang lads round off a succinct and polished set, the crowd are already limbered up for another round of lifting mates on shoulders, lobbing drinks and just generally ‘having it’.

As the last of the support acts instruments are whisked away, it seems like only a few minutes before the house lights drop. At last, the headliners enter the fray.

With the help of drummer Colin Jones, the band kicks things off with the incendiary Wake Up, and the audience erupts. From then on in, the Liverpool outfit reel off crowd favourite after favourite, with frontman Kieran Shuddall pausing only to reaffirm that “it’s good to be home”. Early tracks Fossils and Young Chasers, in particular, are each met with a hero’s welcome. During the interlude of the latter, Shuddall works the crowd expertly; there’s a palpable sense that absolutely everyone in the room is behind the four young men on stage.

Evidently aware of this, the band heads for less familiar ground, feeding on the crowd’s growing intensity. Nevertheless, newer tracks Stuck and Out On My Own may as well have been certified Circa Waves classics; the crowd’s thundering voice dominating Shuddall’s own attempts to ensure his own vocals are heard. The new record’s eponymous track, Different Creatures is yet another standout. As the singer croons its final chorus, it’s clear that this particular tune is both a self-acknowledgment and a statement, to anyone expecting simply more of the signature Circa Waves sound, that a notable sonic transformation has taken place.

As the set nears its end, Mountford Hall is treated to a personal serenade, in the form of an acoustic rendition of Love’s Run Out, the most laid-back and affectionate of Circa Waves offerings to date. It’s a loveable moment, as Shuddall confides that it’s the first time he’s played the song in front of the person it was written for. Before the audience are able to get too comfy, however, guitarist Joe Falcone and bassist Sam Rourke jump back on stage with renewed vigour, just in time for Fire That Burns. Bodies fly.

Just when things appear to have reached their climax, the surging crowd is dealt a final blow in the form of big-hitter T-Shirt Weather. The summer anthem doesn’t disappoint, offering audience members one final chance to lose their voices before the night is over. Sure enough, the infectious “It’s gonna be okay!” refrain is echoed collectively on the way out, long after Mountford Hall’s doors have closed, and all the way to the nearest taxi rank.

 

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