“Thanks for letting a chubby guy and his mates play a gig in a venue where I don’t even need to use a microphone” – and that lack of needing a microphone is one of the most fantastic things about the night; the intimate room and enthusiastic crowd may as well render the lead of every band of the night redundant (it wouldn’t quite be the same without them though, would it?).
Big Sixes open the evening with an acoustic track that felt only slightly out of place on a stage next to a bar, before breaking into a slightly rockier set which seemed to suit the crowd just fine. Where most opening bands would spend their entire stage time trying to warm the crowd up and get them to come to life, somehow the honest and light-hearted performance the band give fits the venue and the evening more appropriately. The opening quote of this comes from Big Sixes’ frontman (Charlie) and nothing else quite conveys the down-to-earth attitude the band share on stage. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing this band live (and they’ve just been on tour, with more dates coming up this summer, so you can’t say you’ve never had the chance) then you can vouch for me when I say that their live show never fails to impress, with (nothing short of majestic) layered vocals that all but make your hair stand on end. It’s remarkably apparent that these are a band formed primarily as a group of friends with a mutual desire to make music – and after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Second up are Blitz Kids, who you’ll probably know from touring with… well, everyone, although most recently Mallory Knox and All Time Low – aren’t they due a headline tour yet? Not too surprisingly, frontman, Joe James, hinted at one on stage, and it’s obvious everyone is the audience would have loved one. These guys don’t need to be asked to join in with the energy, and the tightly packed room essentially moved as one whenever a worthy chorus arose. Joe’s stage presence is undisputable, too, with enough enthusiasm to give most lead singer’s a run for their money, and the talent showcased mirrors that of their album, The Good Youth. The band are incredibly tight, too, and the instrumental side of the show is just as astounding as the vocals and presence, and for the umpteenth I’m left wondering why they aren’t more well known. After previously seeing them play a venue filled with a thousand or two, this simply highlights the fact that there is nothing this band can’t do; but then, I suspect single Sometimes could get a crowd of any size moving. I feel I use phrases along the lines of “these guys are going places” much too often, but in this case, I can’t see why they’re not already there.
“Not many people get to do what we do, and very few people get to do what we do and release three albums. It’s a fucking privilege to have released three Canterbury albums.” That shockingly frank statement comes from the headliner’s frontman Mike Sparks, and he’s more living proof that you can play guitar and still be excellent at involving the crowd. Another striking point about this performance that sets it apart from most live shows is the clarity of the vocals. The majority of gigs are slightly marred by the loss of the lyrical side of the show, but, for one reason or another, almost every line is clear. It might be down to the style of music (sort of You Me At Six crossed with Kodaline, if you’ve never heard the band before) or due to the fact that there’s three vocalists, but somehow I feel these expertise are solely because of the experience the band have in playing live. Although they hadn’t headlined a Nottingham gig in years (and Mike challenges a few of those at the front who claim to have been there) they’ve played enough shows to know the ins and outs of how to make sure the crowd have good time. The band’s personal favourite to perform live is By The Trail (check out our interview with the band for more about that) and, after a short introduction to the track, their powerful presentation means you can’t escape the fact that they put their heart and soul into performing the record.
It’s indisputable that Canterbury are nothing short of cold, hard, talent – I know a fair few will argue that you only classify as a “proper band” if the music is heavy and loud, but in my opinion it’s all about passion, honesty and skill from a group of musicians, and the unavoidable sincerity and realism of Canterbury means they classify as a band, in my eyes, more than the majority do nowadays.