Heaven Basement have one of the most notoriously hectic touring schedules of the current crop of young British bands. In the past six months they’ve been all over Europe and covered most of the US in their relentless assault on the senses of the world’s rock lovers. Certainly this busy schedule seems to be paying dividends, as the band is enjoying a fast growing fan-base both internationally and in the UK. This, their most recent, and largest, UK tour, comes on the back of 2 critically acclaimed sets at Download and a stint supporting the Black Veil Brides on their European spring tour; and with several of the venues on the tour sold out, it’s safe to say that expectations are high.
While the Bournemouth show at the Sound Circus is not officially one of those sold out, the venue is already a crowded and sweaty place when first band Skarlett Riot take to the stage. Unfortunately, they fail to get much of a reaction from the crowd and their whole performance feels rather perfunctory and awkward. They’re not helped by a sound system that muffles and deadens their vocals, while distorting the guitars. They just sound noisy and not particularly tuneful and provide a deeply average start to proceedings, leaving the crowd looking listless and bored.
However, second support band Buffalo Summer are a very pleasant surprise indeed. They manage to triumph over the slightly wonky sound to give a terrific performance and really get the crowd engaged; a feat that few support bands manage. They perform their winning combination of classic bluesy rock and catchy hooks with passion and give a tight, well-rehearsed and really professional performance. Standout song ‘Down To The River’ is a particularly toe-tapping, head nodding delight and it gives singer Andrew Hunt a chance to show off his powerful vocals. Buffalo Summer have managed to get an excellent atmosphere going in the tiny club, and deserve to be performing their own headline tours in venues like this sooner rather than later.
By the time Heaven’s Basement take to the stage, the Sound Circus appears to be filled almost to capacity and the temperate inside is only a couple of degrees below spontaneous combustion. To call the sweltering atmosphere uncomfortable would be a gross understatement. However, none of this prevents Heaven’s Basement from receiving a hero’s welcome when they take to the stage and immediately get things off to an amazing start with the hammering guitars of ‘Welcome Home.’ The crowd are absolutely ecstatic and respond with an almost demented level of noise. This level of enthusiasm is kept up throughout proceedings, as the crowd bellow along with every lyric that’s sung, throughout Heaven’s Basement’s hour-long set. And what a set it is, packing in everything, from the grandiose stadium rock of ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ to the fast and furious punk riffs of ‘I Am Electric’, the latter of which incites an absolutely ferocious mosh pit. Even the band seem surprised by the devoted reaction they receive, with vocalist Aaron breathlessly declaring that he can’t believe the Bournemouth crowd is so insane. While most of the set comes from new album ‘Filthy Empire’ there is a treat in store for those fans who have been with the band from the beginning, as guitarist Sid takes to the mic briefly to perform ‘Paranoia’, a track taken from one of the band’s earlier EPs. This whips the already excited crowd into an absolute frenzy, to the extent that even after the band leave the stage the commotion in the crowd is so great they are forced to come back out for one more song, in flagrant violation of the venue’s ten o’clock curfew, to avert the riot that’s brewing. While this causes significant alarm to the venue’s security team, there can surely be no greater compliment to a band and tonight, it is thoroughly well deserved.
Photograph courtesy of Dan O’ Gara of rock-regeneration.co.uk