Despite the general theme of all being something-rock artists and originating from Arizona, there’s little that binds the three acts of the evening together. The most noticeable similarity comes from the connection they all have with 8123 – a management company known for its familiarity and relaxed approach to the business side of music. Before the show, we got to have a chat with The Maine and Lydia, and after his set Nick Santino gave us a few minutes of his time, too.
Nick Santino, frontman of pop-punk outfit A Rocket To The Moon, unsurprisingly shows no shock at the occasional chant for Rocket as he settles himself on stage, but to the credit of the hecklers, they’ve the decency to slow up for his new work that demands respect. Despite only having been a solo act for around a year, he already boasts an wide catalogue of 2 EPs and an album, Big Skies, creating a sense of depth and variety to his show, already so different from what people have head before.
The cons of being an opening acoustic act include the extra difficulty involved in warming up the crowd, and the almost hollow sound he first produced on stage wasn’t the most promising, holding the distant impression that he belonged as a part of an open air festival. With a little percussion input from a clapping audience the evening got into full swing, hardly slowing for the more romantic and delicate tracks of the set. With a voice that captivated those watching his performance held a compelling edge, and his sound reflected the years spent in the industry.
Despite Nick initial doubt to play Gone Like Yesterday, the third track off album Big Skies went down a treat, luring even first time listeners to join in. There lies one of the more beautiful aspects of country-influenced music; the endless sing-a-longs. An accessible set aptly suited his stage presence, with an unapologetic confidence exuding from his show in a manner designed to impress.
Next on the line up came alternative-rock trio Lydia, facing the difficult task of a debut appearance to the UK. Coming at the end of a tour gave the advantage of a few days to adjust to audiences this side of the pond, but unsurprisingly nerves were still present in the show. With the demeanour of Man Overboard the three were joined by a session drummer, and regardless of the shyness they displayed in themselves, their music burst out excellently.
Despite the somewhat static show, the trio managed to fill the stage with their charisma and endearing charm, their music clearly striking a refreshing originality in the genre. The quality of the show deserved an audience as fit to burst as the one they received, but somehow its size felt incongruous to the delicacy of the tracks; I’ve never found myself saying this before, but the close atmosphere their performance created didn’t feel in place with the crowd of several hundred that they faced. Perhaps they simply deserved more focused attention from everyone in the room.
Away from the more intricate moments, the general force of the set held enough power to quite literally shake your ribcage, and lengthy, atmospheric intros built up a musical tension in the air. From their impressive set to their loveable personalities, they made an impossible-to-forget introduction to what I hope becomes a regular marker in their year – a UK tour. Frontman Leighton seemed endlessly appreciative; you were left with the distinct impression that if he could’ve thanked every person in the audience, he would’ve.
With the strongest musical foundations of the acts, the largest back-catalogue of work and the longest standing reputation in the UK, The Maine were unsurprisingly the highlight of the night for the majority of the crowd. Having been to the UK so frequently over the past few years, you’d expect audiences to be used to the same show eventually, but from the starting block the band manage to keep the show energetic and exotic, and not only a little quirky.
Frontman John O’Callaghan must’ve almost felt a bit redundant among the huge chants that the crowds provided through every songs, stretches across a mix of their records. With the feel-good togetherness elicited by a mass sing-a-long, the room transformed from a gig to a huge party, with huge riffs as a catalyst for energy. Personal moments added a down-to-earth note to the rockstars’ appearance, and despite these occasional break-ups between tracks, the set continued to bound along smoothly and swept the crowd in its grasp.
Along with all the eccentricity of the night, the technical accuracy remained unsurprisingly high; a comfort was established on the stage and the sheer tightness of the band implied they could set up camp and play anywhere, and produce a sound just as excellent. With a history of more than a handful of albums, the set remained constantly varied (with the help of some unusual headdresses…), so no two songs blended into one another.
Each with their own merits, these three acts blended together formed a brilliant finale in gracing the stage with their collective presence; a unique and touching way to close not only the show, but the UK tour.