Mike Duce and his gang of rowdy North Londoners have the world at their feet it seems, as 2012 begins to take shape. With frequent radio plays, a near sell-out tour and a potentially career-defining album recording on the horizon, this year could spell big things for the surprisingly shy Duce.
The first date of a tour must be a daunting one for any band, but for Lower Than Atlantis this was time to demonstrate why Zane Lowe is such a fan and why the BBC asked them to appear in a masterclass session for new bands. The Joiners was sold out, but for opening act Marines there were far from claustrophobic conditions; the bar appeared to be the more popular option, yet the Suffolk five-piece did a decent job. Despite looking like they would rather be somewhere else, Marines pulled off a lengthy set of soaring tunes that would definitely have been singalong anthems if anybody had any idea of the words. Marines’ brand of pop-rock was tight and sounded clean and precise, reminiscent of The Xcerts with their quality in emotive rock songs; yet they lacked an energy that was surely crippled by stage fright.
The same thing cannot be said of Sights & Sounds, who appeared the polar opposite of the young Marines. The five rather hairy 30-somethings exploded into a ferocious opening to their set. Screams, riffs and headbanging aplenty led to a few crowd members shunning the stillness of their peers and began to up the energy. Sights & Sounds definitely had experience on their side, and the set had memorable heavy highs coupled with gentler, slow rock ballads. Canada has certainly produced some energetic rock acts over the years, and Sights & Sounds warmed the crowd up perfectly. As they came to a deafening end, anticipation for tonight’s headliners was reaching a peak.
After various crowd chanting, Lower Than Atlantis took to the stage, undoubtedly nervous but it barely showed. Opening with their new single ‘If the World Was to End’ immediately demonstrated a band with aspirations: powerful, intense riffs and crowd participation straight on the first track. The set followed suit with older material rewarding long-time fans, who moshed accordingly. Crowd-surfing was especially frequent during tracks from second album Far Q. Long time radio regular ‘Beech Like the Tree’ had incredible power and the volume seemed to step up another gear as the set progressed.
Circle pits grew and soon LTA took their leave, only to return with an emotional rendition of ‘Another Sad Song’, a track that stood out as the lads’ finest, dropping the tempo after the brutality of the rest of the set. The crowd equalled Duce’s honest vocals with vigor. Despite the intense heat of the Joiners, the band blasted through closing track ‘Deadliest Catch’, their clever nautically-themed anthem, with an opporunity for each band member to really show what they could do on the huge riffs that ended the night.
LTA left exhuasted and sweaty like the majority of their loyal fans, and despite the slightly awkward and reserved nature of Duce they should all grow in confidence throughout this tour. It will be very unlikely their next headline tour will visit a venue as intimate as The Joiners. I hope Duce and co. believe in themselves enough to provide the power and skill they showed tonight to hundreds if not thousands of people in the next few years.