Milestones (+ supports) at The Vic, Derby

Opening band Over The Years were, unfortunately, your very generic local band. Though I wish there was a nicer way to say that, there isn’t. A questionable track or two and a brief introduction of the band came before vocalist Liam Spalding announced himself as, “attempting to do vocals”. It’s a shame to say that this was a very accurate description, with the singing being iffy at best. To their credit, they’d only been a band since last November (but then again, the same could be said for Milestones), and Over The Years were very much still in the tricky, finding their feet stage.

A song titled You’re All The Same featured a harsh, “fuck you”, before a sloppy breakdown, which could’ve easily been lifted from… so many songs, actually. They went on to quote their influences as The Story So Far, pizza, and hating their hometown, before a shoddy, rough cover of Taylor Swift’s Blank Space did its very best to shake off any unconditional love the band members’ friends might have had for them. If Over The Years were a parody band, they’d be totally spot on and should be praised for it, but if not… well, maybe they should keep the idea in the back of their minds.

We’ve seen Nottingham trio On The Open Road frequently enough to know when they’re up to scratch, and, alas, tonight was not their night. What started strong became a little wary, and by their token acoustic song, it was clear Tom Hawk’s voice was betraying him for the performance. With their EP out soon, let’s hope this show was nothing more than an unexpected mid week blip.

After how highly we thought of the debut EP, Equal Measures, from Milestones, it’d be wonderful to say that the live show lived up to exactly the same standard – sadly, this wouldn’t be true (but you can check out our glowing review of the record here). They’re very nearly ticking all the right boxes, and as far an enjoyment in the show is concerned, they’ve nailed it, but technicalities let the Manchester pop-punk band down.

The most noticeable of these issues came with vocalist, Matt Clarke – the distinct voice, one of many things that makes the band’s first recorded effort stand out so much – was lost among the power of the instrumental, a technical change that should’ve been easily fixed. This lead to chunks of the tracks dissolving, especially in opening Equal Measures. In turn, the vocals became almost eclectic in their consistency, and the harsh, gravelly edge was lost.

Although moments of new single, Nothing Left, had the same imbalance that their opening song did, things tightened up in time for stand out line, “where the fuck is your respect?” Away from technicalities, the show was sublime; having played with ROAM before, it’s easy to compare the bands in terms of enthusiasm and fierce energy (you can check out our review of ROAM’s show here), with Matt taking to the floor to change the performance into the sort of deal you’d see at America’s more intimate shows. Taking away the distinct band/crowd divide made it easier for the fans to absorb the mood of the show and the zest in the execution helped no end.

Once again, Sleepless Nights Are Put To Bed would have been improved by Matt’s vocals being upped, but a cheering crowd lapped it up regardless. Cheering turned to manic heckling, and choosing to mostly ignore them, Milestones retained their high professional standard we’ve seen throughout and ploughed on to closing More To Me. Getting everyone clapping then turned into a pit at the front, and despite the second verse feeling too guitar-heavy (again, a volume issue), the combined vocals worked together and left no doubt as to their first single being their most rehearsed, and therefore cleanest.

In terms of enthusiasm and crowd enjoyment, the band are on par with the likes of ROAM, with non-fans being converted in the manic process. In terms of technicalities, there’s room for improvement – sloppy or stationary moments on intricate sections left something to be desired, and although the vocals weren’t bad, after the quality in the studio, I’d expected something closer to that. They’re not quite there yet, but they’re on their way.

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