Versus You at The Hairy Dog, Derby

VY1Several months ago, we posted our review of Versus You’s new album, Moving On. As promotion of its UK release a few days ago, the Luxembourg band have come over here from the mainland to play a strong of shows, and last night found themselves in Derby with support from local band, Dead Intentions. After supporting them several nights ago in Nottingham, the openers spoke highly of the band – and rightly so.

The set and album open with the same song, When It All Goes Down, and in both instances the strong, distinct vocals were shockingly attention grabbing. Where the majority of bands suffer from losing the vocals in among a powerful instrumental, Eric (Rosenfeld, vocals and guitar) held the control there for the majority of the set – more noticeably on the newer work. The gritty, harsh edge his voice held mirrored exactly what could be heard on the album, and with a tight music backdrop, the opening song wasn’t too dissimilar from the studio version. Only the faintest of breaks came before second track, If The Camels Die, We Die, where again, I was taken aback by how close to studio level the live show proved to be. Particularly striking was Eric’s vocals dexterity and ability to switch between the harsher and more melodic sides of the track.

Continuing to play the album, A Way With Words gave a two-minute blast of the pop-punkier side of the band’s style, and the combined vocals added a texture and power to the show, before the lyrics and instrumental gave way to draw attention to the brilliantly executed guitar. After showing respect to the supports, Eric dedicated a song to them, a song which unfortunately had the majority of the opening vocals lost to the powerful percussion of the track. Conversely, the drumming which controlled the track provided a different sound to the vocal dominated show, and only had chance to receive a sliver of applause before launching into the instrumentally strongest song of the show, with ground-shaking bass, intricate guitar and felicitous percussion.

“It’s my first show to ghosts”, Eric jokes as he pulls the audience to the front of the room, before plunging into Still I Persist, one of the heavier songs off the album, but still holding the clear vocal capability, before losing their edge slightly on the next track, which also faltered with a feedback problem. Be Better Than Me brought back the vocal emphasis, and with good reason, too; the emotion forced into every line of the track came across almost tangibly – the lyrical harshness was highlighted as the music died for a second, and the almost ironically positive hooks picked up the pace again. Personal favourite of the set came from Skinny And Distracted, which could only be described as similar to Man Overboard in the power with which the unapologetic honesty was delivered; bitter and moving. This solid reality continues into On The Town, despite the vocals frequently being lost on the verses and the tight form seeming to slip, making the abrupt ending slightly less effective.

30 Pills switched back to highlighting the musical capability of the band, the four-piece moving together to produce a cymbal-heavy opening, before should-have-been final track, one of their earlier songs. Three Cheers For Happiness resides at the close of their 2006 release, Marathon, and since then their sound has developed no end, making the live performance sound almost entirely different, though still retaining its Brand New-esque features of building up the sound and shouting away from the mike. Finishing the song with a lengthy feedback solo, the band say their thanks and make to leave the stage, but are persuaded to stay on with chants of “one more!”

Kitchen-Sink Drama and One That Can See closed the set, and the band confessed that it had been one of their tighter shows. Clear vocals and the variety of genres the set combined made the show accessible to anyone, and although there was a an obvious difference in the performance of older and more recent work, the high, studio standard was maintained throughout, and the crowd felt unjustly small to a band of such talent.

The band’s new album, Moving On, can be purchased here.

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