Chris Eustace on Young Guns' attempt to steal the Britrock crown at HMV Next Big Thing 2012 festival.
It’s always a good sign for any band playing The Borderline in London when there are people forced to watch from the venue’s stairs. It means the floor must be heaving. Tonight, people are nearly hanging from said stairs and the floor is a mass of outstretched arms. It’s just a little bit sweaty in here.
Such is Young Guns’ rise in the last couple of years that this sold-out show can be considered an intimate one for them. They might have already done the festivals and venues twice this size, but with the mainstream now beckoning, this HMV Next Big Thing 2012 show isn’t quite the misnomer it initially appears.
The band take to the stage one-by-one, and it looks like they’re up for playing an arena show regardless of the size of the room, with singer Gustav Wood right in the faces of the front rows as they start up ‘Bones’. It’s the title track from their new album, which in two days time will land in the Top 20. As the song careers into its widescreen chorus, this hometown show has already taken on the feel of a victory party.
A word-perfect crowd are clearly in the mood to celebrate too. The pogoing is relentless for early track ‘Daughter Of The Sea’ and, with neither party willing to let up, breakthrough song ‘Crystal Clear’ is next, the new record clearly giving the band confidence not to leave ‘the hits’ until the end.
Wood demands everyone give him their best howl before the rumbling bass of ‘Elements’, informing them at the finish that this is “already the best night of the tour.” It might just be standard stage patter, but with a few crowd members clearly having been to other dates on this jaunt, you wonder if it’s been anything less than devotional for them recently.
Young Guns’ steady rise is illustrated nicely with the nimble ‘Stitches’ from 2010 debut album ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’, and for the real die-hards, ‘There Will Be Rain’ from their ‘Mirrors’ EP, Gustav dancing on the speakers protruding out from stage right, arms out in apology to the lucky/unlucky souls whose drinks he’s just inadvertently kicked over.
With a sprightly ‘Dearly Departed’ recalling prime Jimmy Eat World, thoughts turn to the path this band could go down next. It may sound slightly ridiculous with their new album less than a week old to be putting them at a crossroads, but Young Guns have it in them to harness the intricate darkness of Muse or early Biffy, or they could even go down the Bon Jovi leave-your-irony-at-the-door stadium anthems route – they have supported them before, and they’re already introducing songs as being about “not giving a fuck about tomorrow,” so who knows?
However they play it, you suspect their upward trajectory will continue for some time. Wood beams “We’re having the time of our lives!” as ‘Weight Of The World’ causes pandemonium from its opening notes and ‘Learn My Lesson’ and ‘Winter Kiss’ close things out in impressively frenzied fashion.
More musically muscular than You Me At Six, and with more memorable choruses than the last couple of Lostprophets albums mustered, the band that said ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’ now contend for the Britrock crown themselves.