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Brand New / Appease: live in Londonlive in London (2003)
Triple Crown Records
Reviewer Rating: 4.5
Rock n’ Roll is very much alive tonight. It’s a living, breathing, raging being that’s come to shake your core and show you exactly what it is to mean what you’re singing. I’m pretty sure that if you cut tonight’s headline band open they’d bleed the lyrics they write. That’s how much this means to them.
Standing in line it is clear Brand New are slowly forming a formidable fan base in England. There are easily about 200 people in attendance, and for the Metro Club (a small venue barely capable of holding more than 300) that isn’t bad at all. Also you have to keep in mind that Brand New are doing a string of shows other nights in the week supporting Finch that many people will be attending instead. The age group ranges from 15 to about 20, which is of course a fair reflection on the general age of fans of bands like Brand New. There’s studded belts, offset caps, long hair and ill-fitting t-shirts. All the ingredients are there within this group of fans to tell you exactly what you’re going to hear tonight: Heart-on-your-sleeve songs about painful break-ups. Predictable? Yes. But Brand New do it exceptionally well.
Support band Appease are a friendly enough bunch. It seems no one in attendance is familiar with the English, emo-pop quartet. Although there is nothing new and the band can only be described as looking awkward on stage, they play a relatively long set which is well received. The highlight of the set was ‘Act Five, Scene Three’ which is a driving, melodic song that should easily capture the hearts of today’s market. Other songs were fairly similar and one could be forgiven for feeling they’d heard this one too many times before. Appease have a sound which is loaded with potential, but unfortunately they’re recycling worn formulas, and however good they sound doing it, we’re after a band that are pushing boundaries and trying new things.
Essentially, I should be saying a very similar thing about Brand New, however something about this New Jersey outfit sets them apart from other pop-punk/emo bands around. The poetically juvenile, honest lyrics from front man Jesse Lacey are easy to relate to and the band’s perfect mix of melody and energy is definitely going to win over fans. It is not these qualities that really grab your attention however. It’s the three-way vocal interchanges between the members of Brand New that really make you stand up and take notice.
Tonight the band is really on form. Bouncing from one side of the stage to the other, Brand New open with the excellent ‘Jude Law And A Semester Abroad’. Soon The Metro Club’s foundations are shaking and everyone in attendance is singing along. Following that with ‘Failure By Design’, ‘Mix Tape’ and ‘Logan To Government Centre’ went down very well with all those in attendance. The band then played a new song, dedicated to Jesse’s dying grandfather. The song sounded excellent and really whets the appetite for their next release. The performance went from strength to strength with ‘The No Seatbelt Song’ tugging on our heart strings and ‘The Shower Scene’ allowing the moshers to really let go.
Had the band played in this vein all night it would have been a resounding success. I would have been reporting a great gig, which certainly did Brand New proud. Fortunately, it was not until the last two songs that we saw exactly why tonight’s audience loves Brand New. ‘SoCo Amaretto Lime’ is a poignant, moving piece sung mostly by Lacey alone. A reflection on teenage years that hits home with all the might of a bulldozer crashing through your living room walls, the song certainly strikes a chord with every set of fixated eyes and gob smacked mouth that follow Lacey’s every movement throughout the song. The line ‘you’re just jealous ‘cause we’re young and in love’ is just about as beautiful as it gets tonight with all singing along and seeing into the mind of Brand New’s charismatic singer.
Concluding the set was ‘Seventy Times Seven’. A non-stop, pop-punk gem that is packed full of emotion. The energy in the crowd was immense as the band gave the song all they had to give, and then towards the end of the song, some more. The audience grabbed the microphone from Lacey and a mob of teenagers were soon rushing round it, shouting ‘is that what you call a getaway? Just tell me what you got away with…’ along with the band. Lacey soon gave up singing into a fellow band member’s microphone and dived into the crowd. The energy in the venue stopped simmering and exploded. Fans rushed onto the stage in a moment that shall stay with me for quite a while I’m sure. The connection between the band and the audience was intense to say the very least, and as kids were forced off stage, still singing along to the song, the band somehow managed to finish off the song with more emotion and meaning than I have seen in my life.
Brand New were excellent tonight, clearly enjoying the small venue and intense audience just as much as the audience appreciated their emotionally draining set. Some may find Brand New cliché, some may feel they’re ‘trendy’… But if you were in attendance at this show, you’d know they mean every word they sing, and for me, that’s enough.
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