For reasons I won’t go into I’ve driven 135 miles to Birmingham for this gig and I’m surprised it’s in Academy 3. It’s a great little venue but with a capacity of only 250, so I’d have thought it would be a sell-out.
It isn’t, but (not wanting to give the game away) those who’ve made the effort to come out tonight are in for a real treat.
First up are Faux.
Formed in 2014, this four piece from Southampton play what they describe as ‘dirty pop’.
It’s certainly not the type of drivel that most people would think of if you asked them what pop was.
This is guitar-driven pop delivered with catchy riffs, jangly guitars, heavy drum beats and an infectious rhythm. Faux mix the fast and the slow perfectly, often within the same song. Lulling you into a false sense of calmness with gentle guitars, slow, heavy bass and melancholy vocals before everything erupts into a wonderful noise of pounding drums, rock guitars and loud, desperate words from the mouth of vocalist Lee Male.
It’s a short set. Just five songs. ‘Inhale’, ‘Call’ and ‘Swimmingly’ from 2016’s ‘Inhale’ ep, together with 2017’s ‘Hot Headed’ and ‘Around’.
There’s nothing from 2015’s ‘Patterns’ ep which is a shame but that’s the thing with opening the night. You get a short slot and need to use it to make your mark.
Faux do just that tonight and will no doubt have picked up a decent number of new fans for their efforts.
From the moment they walk on stage Tigress own the place.
It’s a rare occurrence that a support band has the crowd behind them from the opening note of their set but as they open with ‘Alive’ from 2015 debut ep ‘Human’ it’s clear that in the not-too-distant future all their tours will be as headliners.
Loud, infectious, melodious, layered, and topped with the wonderfully powerful voice of Katy Jackson, Tigress deliver rock songs that could easily fill a stadium. ‘Miracle’, again from the debut ep, swerves back and forth between a calm, catchy guitar riff with heavy bass backing and pure, storming, raucous rock.
The rest of their set is made up of songs from forthcoming ep ‘Like It Is’. ‘Shockwave’, slows things down, allowing people to catch their breath and stand still for a few moments. “Get your phones out, let’s light this place up” and the sight of almost every member of the crowd doing as asked is truly impressive from the front.
The tempo remains slow with ‘Give Me a Chance’ albeit with slashing guitar and pounding drums.
They close with ‘Power Lines’, perfect power pop, with a beat that grabs you and doesn’t let go.
But it’s not just the songs.
Tigress have an undeniable stage presence. Guitarists Sean Bishop and Tom Harrison together with bassist Jack Divey conquer the stage, rarely still and often leaping on to their monitors whilst vocalist Jackson needs do nothing more than move her arms and watch the crowd with an almost hypnotic stare.
Team this with anthemic rock songs that wouldn’t be out of place in huge venues or as movie soundtracks and you have a band that are seriously going places.
The excitement is tangible before Counterfeit take to the stage, and when they do it’s easy to see why.
Opening with ‘Washed Out’ it’s mere seconds before frontman Jamie Campbell Bower looks like he’s been on stage an hour, such is the energy he puts in.
Never stationary, constantly moving around the stage like a caged animal, staring from his mike and hammering his guitar. Counterfeit play hard, fast, punk rock ’n’ roll.
‘As Yet Untitled’, ‘Addiction’, ‘Romeo’ and ‘You Can’t Rely’ follow in quick succession.
Relentless guitars, thumping bass lines, heavy drum beats and sing-a-long lyrics that strike a chord with so many, especially the young, drive the crowd into a frenzy of movement and fists in the air.
Constantly teasing the crowd by singing whilst leaning over the pit barrier it’s only a matter of time before Bower is in the crowd.
‘Letter to The Lost’ is dedicated to a close friend who committed suicide.
Politely asking a couple to stop their slow dance this track silences the crowd, with just Bower and his guitar making a poignant reminder that the biggest cause of death amongst males under the age of 40 is suicide.
[Counterfeit work closely supporting CALM, a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide.]
Bower remains in the crowd as the band launch into ‘Family Suicide’ encouraging a mosh pit dancing circle to grow and grow.
Lyrics peppered with references to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, high energy punk, spikey guitars, coherent bass, and drums that fill your head. It’s easy to understand why Counterfeit have such an appeal to those who demand more than X Factor and want songs and music with real gut feelings.
‘For The Thrill Of It’, ‘Close To Your Chest’, ‘Come Get Some’ (guitarist and brother Sam joining JCB in the crowd) and ‘Lost Everything’ round off the main part of the set with Bower in the crowd, on the stage, climbing the pit fence to stand tall above the audience.
Bang, bang, bang.
There’s no slow down. Just raw energy and an addictive atmosphere that eventually sees members of one support band joining the throng for a good thrash around.
Counterfeit leave the stage only to return within seconds to blast us out with ‘Hold Fire’ and finally ‘Enough’.
“The enemy can be defeated as long as we stand up together and sing.”
The crowd love it. I can hardly spot anyone standing still.
Every, and I mean every, other person is lost in the moment and having the time of their lives.
It’s not all about Jamie Bower though. Counterfeit are an impressive live outfit as a whole. Talented rock musicians that put every ounce of energy they have into every song they play.
A great night and one that restored my faith in music for the youth of today.