- By The Sea
The Philharmonic Music Room seems the perfect settings for tonight’s gig. Tucked away and slightly hidden but beautiful and intricate, the venue reflects tonight’s headliners, THE CHILLS, perfectly. The New Zealand outfit are infamous for being key pioneers in the Dunedin scene, an indie pop scene characterised by its jangling guitars, minimal guitars and loose drumming. Despite any real commercial success the group have become somewhat of a cult classic, finding fans all over the world. This is the first time they have brought their group to the Mersey shores, with a line-up that’s quite different from their original one, drawing a more evenly mixed crowd of older and fresher faces than expected.
There seems no better a band to open up for the main act than the dreamy indie pop of Merseyside stalwarts BY THE SEA. Arriving on stage with their ever-present modesty, singer Liam Power quips, “Cheers for standing up”. But the lads are more than worthy of the standing audience. In the process of writing their third album the band have mastered their craft to a T, performing a tight and well-considered set. The hushed tones of singer Liam Power weave seamlessly with the dreamy sounds around him, as the audience watch on with silent respect. The real appeal of the band comes in the lack of ego and sheer talent with which they play. Serenading the audience with a selection of old songs as well as a handful of new, the local favourites seems to win a handful of new fans who may not have heard them before. The band slump off back into the shadows whilst still beating on in the crowd’s memory.
With a magical set coming from the support and a small interlude, it’s time for the main act to take stage. There seems to be a gaping hole where fiddle and synth player Erica Scally should be, who we find out is back at the hotel extremely ill. This doesn’t seem to faze the remaining Chills too much though, as they start to slay through a set of classic songs alongside a handful of new ones. With a similar modesty to Powers, singer Martin Phillips introduces the set by saying, “Sorry it’s taken us 36 years to get here Liverpool but hopefully we’ll make up for that tonight.” What follows is an eclectic mix of material both new and old from a band who seem to all have very unique stage personae. By far the most interesting of these is drummer Todd Knudson, who looks far more like he’s playing in a metal group as he smashes away at his kit, throws sticks about with abandon and stands up to drum. By far and away the highlights of the set come in the form of new material Kaleidoscope World and Pink Frost. Though their music may not be quite what it used to be, the band play well and fulfil the audience’s dream of catching the fleeting chance to see this elusive group.