Tall Ships opened the night with a symphony of sounds, the lingering beginnings of their song ‘T=0’ that had the audience gearing up for the rest of the night. The audience nodded along to ‘Will to Life’ and the steady strumming of guitars and drums, with lyrics like ‘there’s no denying, that I’d be lying if I said I was coping alright with it’. There’s something almost calming when listening to Tall Ships’ album, but listening to them live was another experience entirely – the recordings don’t capture the ferocity with which the guitarists would strum their guitars like the audience’s heartstrings, the way the singers sang and shouted into their mics, head shaking in time to their beats.
The audience heard a teaser from Tall Ships’ upcoming album Impressions (2017) titled ‘Home’, and they smiled towards the crowd murmuring “it’s great to be back on stage” – back after four long years. Their set ended with ‘Oscar’, a blooming piece with an erratic guitar line building into a dense rhythm with heartfelt lyrics and the sounds of applause as they exited the stage.
Lonely the Brave finally came on stage to a chorus of applause and shouts from the crowd, opening powerfully with ‘Black Mire’ from their Things Will Matter (2016) album. Riding the momentum, the next song ‘Dust and Bones’ might have sounded slightly calmer than ‘Black Mire’ on the album, but with the heavy bass that vibrated through the floor and the passionate shouts of lead vocalist David Jakes, ‘there was a time when I was dust and bones’, the song had the crowd raising their hands and nodding their heads with the rhythm.
The heavy drum beats that sent earthquakes across the floors and the intense guitar strumming sent straight down your spine and into your heart fell away to the sounds of ambient rock. Jakes’ voice was loud and clear as he sang the beginning of ‘The Blue, The Green’. There was something like a longing wistfulness in hearing the faint murmurs of the crowd as they sang along, a gentle lull amidst the raw strings of the guitar, a smooth harmony with the artist.The most powerful moment of the night was when the brightly coloured neon-lights toned down into muted black and white, a white spotlight on the stage and David Jakes’ voice faded until only the live instrumentals of ‘The Blue, The Green’ – the hesitant cymbals, the waning bass – remained. Slowly the crowd’s murmurs grew louder and you could almost pinpoint the moment when their confidence grew until their voices emerged and filled in empty spaces, singing ‘I wanna know what it feels like, so I can feel it inside’ to a building crescendo of guitar strings and drums. There was a moment where the band just looked out towards the audience, nodding along and smiling. Soon both singer and audience were repeating ‘I wanna know what it feels like’ like a mantra.
Everything slowed down as ‘Science’ began to play and hands were held up and moved against the air. The crowd were confident and sang along perfectly; ‘cause there’s roaring and we’re all in.’ The beat and tempo picked up again with ‘Backroads’ – at that point the front of the audience was thrumming and dancing to the music, hands help up towards the stage, lips mouthing along with the lyrics.
The set ended with ‘Call of Horses’ and ‘Black Saucers’, and even then the excitement, the rush, was still crackling in the air and just like that, the set ended way too soon. Equal parts passionate and pensive, potent and brooding, the night was a flawless selection that captured the variety of music that Lonely the Brave offers.