Lower Than Atlantis at Rock City Basement, Nottingham

LTA blurred crowd shotLower Than Atlantis might have been away for over a year after leaving their previous record label, but there’s no mistaking the fact that they are back with full force. At the start of June, the four-piece announced a return to music, with a new single, album, tour, merch line… and so far, everything seems to be up to scratch.

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder” clearly prevails over “out of sight and out of mind” if we’re speaking in cliches about the gig, because the months worth of suppressed excitement from the fans had them on the edge of their (metaphorical) seats as soon as the four-piece stepped on stage. Before they’d barely picked up their instruments, chants of “LTA!” opened the set, and it didn’t take an expert to pick up on the electricity in the room for the long-awaited set – or the potential for things to get a bit wild. Despite the rowdy enthusiasm that radiated off the pit of bodies, the instrumental that broke in opener and newest single, Here We Go, took control of the show, with Mike’s (Duce, the band’s frontman) vocals cutting through the chanting crowd.

If The World Was To End highlighted the manic energy the crowd were willing to contribute, and the power they provided almost rendered not only Mike useless, but with the majority of the percussion provided by clapping, Eddy (Thrower, drums) seems a little excess. When the music dropped away, the band closeness was forefronted in just how tight the music sounded, with the instrumental standing for itself. Without a pause for breath, the set plunged into Love Someone Else, with the sound all but engulfing the room, and the blinding light show that accompanied the set made for an even tighter image.

High At Five was one of the few track were the vocals were really lost – be it through the crowd taking control or Mike simply needing a break it was almost impossible to tell, but by the time the chorus came around again, the band had pulled back the power of the night. The next song provided layered vocals that added a texture to the live show, but whether or not the crowd were bothered by these powerful intricacies is anyone’s guess; between the chants of “down it!” in response to every vodka coke the band were offered and the circle pit that ensued part way through, I doubt anyone would have cared if the levels were off for a bit or the vocals lost on a few lines. The room turned into a massive party, and the off-the-wall zest made it hectic, sweaty, and downright awesome.

Ground shaking bass and strobe lighting made the crowd surfing all the more chaotic, and though the crowd calmed a bit for new track, English Kids In America, it wasn’t by much. From the opening of the track, the more electronic edge prevailed, with the percussion work that drove the song and anthemic vocals making it an instant hit. A powerful middle eight made a clear point of the track being a single, undoubtedly showing a lot of promise for the upcoming self-titled album, out later this year.

“This song’s about a dickhead girl, anyone know any of them?”, Mike opens Someone Better Came Along with, at which point the crowd went insane. Despite the rowdy crowd joining in (probably agreeing with the opening question), this proved to be one of the vocally strongest. At the close of this track, he took the opportunity to thank the supports – Decade and Yearbook – describing them as “two of my favourite UK bands at the moment”.

“Is everyone having a good time? Yeah, I’m about to change that”, but no one seemed to fussed, and any fan would know what was coming next. Widely regarded as the band’s most successful song, and hailing from several years and a couple of albums ago, it’s no surprise they’re deciding to re-release Another Sad Song, and why for many it was the highlight of the night. From the understated guitar that opened the track, it was obviously bound to be a bit of  tear-jerker all round. Despite the crowds protesting attempts to control the vocals, Mike rose above and the sheer volume of the music filled out the space, swallowing any audience-participation with it. Come the repeat of the chorus, though, and the band dropped away entirely. Playing to a sold out venue of a few hundred, with them carrying the song as well as did was enough to move the hardest of hearts, and the band made no attempt to cover how moved they were by the response – who wouldn’t be?

The closing three songs brought the energy back into the room, full velocity. Taking a short break before the penultimate song, Mike declares that although he promised himself he wouldn’t say it because of the political correctness associated with becoming a bigger band, it’s “all about the artist and the fans” – if the fans didn’t buy the music, it wouldn’t be made, in effect who the hell cares about reviews if the fans like it? He’s known for always being outspoken and not sucking up to anyone to get anywhere, and as always, you can’t help but respect him for it.

As the set came to its close, the lighting became as wild as the pits, with Mike in the crowd and the fans losing it all – “crazy” did the show no justice.

The band continue their UK tour, before playing Reading and Leeds this summer, and releasing their self-titled album later this year.

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