MilburnArts Club 19/7/18
What do you want from a Thursday night out? Well, good mates, songs everyone can sing along to and an enthusiastic band all rate highly, and in these respects Sheffield indie rockers MILBURN at the packed-out Arts Club don’t disappoint.
They understand what their audience want, most of whom have been loyal since their 2006 debut album Well Well Well, and provide it with warmth, witty one-liners and a fair bit of swagger: the passion is contagious. Milburn are as popular now as they were in their heyday, as seen from the positive reception to their 2017 album Time. If this gig is anything to go by, the hometown crowd at Tramlines Festival the following night will get their jollies.
From the first note of the title track from Well Well Well, the crowd are ready; pints are launched in the air and the throng bounce about, the mosh pit moving as one. The band and crowd match each other in energy and enthusiasm, and there is a sense everyone appreciates this opportunity to party like it’s… 2006.
This crowd, mixed with some younger fans, are reliving their youth and they really let go. As the night goes on, the atmosphere becomes more charged and some beer-addled conversations lead to misunderstandings and squaring up before realising, hey, it’s a Milburn gig, what’s there to argue about?
It does feel a bit stuck in time, in terms of the sound and in the attitudes of the crowd, whose celebrations are fuelled as much by testosterone as beer. The chanting starts before the band are even on stage. It’s a case of lads, lads, lads and there’s some well-judged merchandise. Milburn FC football top, anyone?
Milburn know Liverpool, having spent time at Parr Street studios working with Bill Ryder-Jones, and they know exactly which songs are wanted: favourite is followed by favourite and there isn’t a misjudged moment in the set. There’s also a sense of fun: frontman Joe Carnall gets a lookalike fan on stage and the contents of a packet of Wagon Wheels are flung at drummer Joe Green. Even this biscuit assault doesn’t put him off his stride.
The various members of the band have had plenty of experience now and they clearly know what they’re doing. Bands on their CVs include Reverend And The Makers, the touring line-up of Artic Monkeys and a few of their own ventures, including Joe Carnall’s The Book Club. His vocals are strong and he’s a charismatic lead, holding the attention of the crowd for a solo encore before being joined by Green, Tom Rowley and Louis Carnall for What You Could’ve Won.
Milburn provide exactly what’s wanted: a celebratory night out with a real sense of fun. Chanting happily as they head off in to the night, quite a few of the Milburn fans chew a souvenir Wagon Wheel as they chew the fat about their favourite part of the gig. This is a gang brought together by a talented and emotionally intelligent band.