Emery

support Moneen + Deaf Havana
author TL date 23/03/10 venue Logo, Hamburg, GER

What do you do, when the band that always pops into your mind first when people ask you, "what's your favourite band", announces a tour in Europe, yet doesn't announce any stops in your particular country? I don't know what you do, but if you're anything like me, you secure access to the show, stuff four people into a car and set off on a six hour road trip to Hamburg. Because if you're like me, Emery is by far the most played artist on your last.fm charts, you have listened to them ever since their first album, and the thought of getting to sing every word of their songs back to them in a live show has endless appeal on you. If you're not like me however, you should've considered doing a similar thing anyway, if for no other reason then not only because UK upstarts Deaf Havana are along to show their stuff, but also because Moneen (possibly the best non-fashion emo band to ever emerge) are putting up their vastly under-appreciated show in support. So, a lot of driving and a lot of McDonalds away from Copenhagen, we find ourselves in Hamburg, arriving early enough to enjoy some German pints in a pub while Moneen get interviewed a few tables away from us. Darkness soon falls on Hamburg however, and we enter Logo, where everyone (except for Jill, our pocket-size photographer) rejoice at discovering the smallness of the venue and the absence of barriers. This is going to be quite good we agree, and set upon some merch, some fussball and some more beers, to pass time until Deaf Havana come on.

Deaf Havana

After a couple of fussball victories for yours truly then, Deaf Havana do indeed take the stage, and launch into a set immediately plagued with the usual support sound. Nothing is really coming out too clearly, and though someone in the band knows enough German to greet the crowd in their own language, reception is slim to none. For those who care more about the tunes than the jumping around though, this is not a total disaster, as it soon becomes apparent that the review of Deaf Havana's début album "Meet Me Halfway, At Least" must've been quite accurate, because even without prior knowledge to the band's music, it seems that plenty of crowd members are pleasantly surprised by the songs that we're treated to. There are problems with some samples apparently, but most people aren't noticing that, as they're too busy listening to the sweet clean vocals of guitarist James Veck-Gilodi, which easily stand out from everything else about the band. I say so because, apart from the 'support sound', there's also a weird disconnected feel to the performance. Frontman Ryan Mellor's scarce attempts at whipping up some response are as utterly un-charming as his 'screams' are puny, and while I wonder what exactly he contributes in the band when there's a singer in both Veck-Gilodi and drummer Tom Ogden as well, I also can't help but note how everyone in the band seem to be doing entirely their own thing. Their in-band interaction is near zero, and with only slim amounts of separated rockin' out, poor attempts at charming the crowd and the mentioned sound problems, this looks like the show of a band who's getting a bit tired of touring maybe? It would be a problem, if it weren't for those good tunes, the catchy Alexisonfire-ish post hardcore of which proves, that you can fail quite much as a live entertainer and still have a fair show, if only your music is good enough.

Moneen

As is normal when the first support is replaced by the second, when Moneen come on, there's a significant increase in crowd interest. Now all of two people seem to be genuinely excited to see the band on stage. I'm one of them. I invite for the Moneen fans among our readership to shake their heads along with me. Regardless, if there's any justice in the world, Moneen should leave with many more fans after their show, because from the get go, their performance is one of a band that deserves cult status. A few seconds into first song "Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do" Kenny Bridges surprises the crowd by crashing down into them, playing his guitar and everything, showing them that Moneen are a band that likes to more about. An attitude he carries on throughout the show, seizing every opportunity to escape his microphone by jumping around with no care for style nor safety, and all in all, you can safely say that Moneen are getting sweaty, even if the crowd is still reserved. They sound every bit as fantastic, engaged and relevant, as they must have done back when they formed around the turn of the millennia, and really, it's a travesty that they aren't known more widely than they are. Fans of early material from Jimmy Eat World or Biffy Clyro should check them out in a heartbeat, as should any lover of 90's indie/emo in general. Their set proceeds with "Great Escape" before Kenny dedicates "Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now" to the people in the audience who knew the band beforehand. Moshing breaks out, as even clueless fans begin to realize what kind of awesome band they're witnessing, and after "Believe", my sole fellow Moneen fan in the audience cries out for "Start Angry... End Mad". From the setlist on stage, it is clear that the planned song is "Hold That Sound", but after a quick debate between Bridges and the crowd, that is scratched in favour of the requested old song, and lo and behold, we go crazy again, just as we do to "The Passing Of America", during which Bridges throws down his guitar, grabs a spare drum and heads into the crowd to drum in various places around the venue, during a prolonged bridge section. After the last "Paassing! Of America!" has faded away however, if one takes a step back, the overall feeling of the show is somewhat mellow, what with its shortness and the almost non-existent crowd activity. Yet, it is clear as day to me that Moneen are not only the best band on the bill today (better even, than my own favourite band), they are probably in the top 20, or even 10, of all bands I've ever seen, and their kind of show will only ever deserve to be graded as low as:

8

Setlist:

1. Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do

2. Great Escape

3. Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now

4. Start Angry... End Mad

5. Hold That Sound

6. The Passing Of America

Emery

Now did I mention that Emery is my favourite band? Well that seems to go also for a number of other people in attendance tonight, as the crowd starts hugging the stage in anticipation for the headlining act. They come on to the opening tones of "Butcher's Mouth", and as is normal the case with headliners from the underground, the first uttering of vocals signal a sing-along party, however, maybe the most remarkable thing about this show is that the sing-along's are uninterrupted from start to finish. During every single song, old or new, there are fans ready to step up and croon along to the lyrics, and in front of the now frequent moshing, people are falling over each other, trying to get a spot closer to the microphone. Not an easy task, as Toby Morell, who handles lead vocals on the first few songs, carries the mic from side to side, showing that while Emery's music is as far removed from emo's hardcore roots as can be, being passionate and energetic still has higher priority than sounding note-perfect to him. "The Party Song" and "Listening To Freddie Mercury" follow, and people dance and scream some more, with Morell, guitarist Matt Carter and keyboardist Josh Head all doing their best to whip things up even more, the response at the front being rapturous, and the one at the back seemingly also one of satisfaction.

There's one weird thing about the Emery show however, and that's how far removed from the idea of rock stars the guys in the band are. As much as they rock out and pour themselves into their songs while they're played, as laid back and relaxed is their behaviour between songs. There are zero values of both cheese and charm in the scarce between-song banter, which is limited to humbly thanking the crowd for the attendance, and announcing the name of the next song now and then. Otherwise nothing, no "you girls are looking pretty", "this is a great night", "do you wanna hear an old/new song?", "make some noise" or any such thing, instead, Emery are as normal as the next guys between songs. Now, while lack of pretence is never something to complain about, I can't help but to feel that after watching the extremely forthcoming Moneen, Emery seem like they're missing something. Like their set could transcend great and become fantastic, if some kind of thought had gone into making this just a little more of an experience, rather than just a list of songs being performed. It's a small complaint though, songs both old and new continue to trigger exhilarated responses from the faithful fans bouncing closely around the small dance floor of the venue.

"Rock'N'Rule" is followed by a barrage of older songs; "Playing With Fire", "The Ponytail Parades" and "Fractions", and somewhere along the way, Morell overtakes Devin Shelton's bass duties, while Shelton shifts to lead vocals, doing a somewhat more contained, yet also much better sounding job at it, much to the delight of a certain vocally obsessed reviewer in attendance. Five more songs follow in the regular set, with Emery and its crowd maintaining an unwavering level of intensity, and the strong tracks almost tripping over each other's toes as they come off the setlist. "Walls" close off the regular proceedings, as Head goes moshing with the crowd, and after a short absence, the band re-emerges for "So Cold I Could See My Breath" and officially ending the evening with "Studying Politics". The audience is left with a feeling from a show of a rare kind, as there have been no dramatic curves in intensity, no lulls, no breaks for showmanship or other such things that you would tend to remember a show for, other than the music of course. Here, there was only that, a list of fourteen songs, all strong enough to demand strained singing along from start to finish from a dedicated front audience, and grateful clapping, smiling and head-nodding from more relaxed on-lookers at the back. It's a quality experience, well worth our own six hour drive here, but like I said, if Emery would be just a bit more forthcoming between songs as well, the experience could easily gain a few notches, feeling warmer and more memorable to the fans that come out for it.

Setlist:

1. The Butcher's Mouth

2. The Party Song

3. Listening To Freddie Mercury

4. Rock'N'Rule

5. Playing With Fire

6. The Ponytail Parade

7. Fractions

8. The Smile, The Face

9. In Shallow Seas We Sail

10. Can't Stop The Killer

11. Edge Of The World

12. Walls

--ENCORE--

13. So Cold I Could See My Breath

14. Studying Politics

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