Madina Lake at Portsmouth, The Wedgewood Rooms 22/10/13

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Since their formation in 2005, Chicago based alternative rock act Madina Lake have been through a lot as a band, from touring with heavy hitters such as Linkin Park and playing the famous Download festival to the hospitalisation and lengthy recovery period of their bassist Matthew Leone in 2010. However, after 8 years, 3 albums, 2 EPs and countless tours, the band have decided to call it a day, with one final farewell tour of the UK, supported by Goth rockers Fearless Vampire Killers and American rock band Super Happy Fun Club. Tonight is the penultimate date of this farewell tour and is destined to be an emotional night, both for the band and their devoted fanbase.

First on the bill were Super Happy Fun Club, and despite the rather silly name, they provided a very pleasant surprise for those in the crowd who arrived in time to see them. They’re a polished live act, and probably one of the highest quality opening acts I’ve seen. Their sound is good too, they’ve apparently escaped the curse of muffled fuzzy sound that seems to plague most support acts. Their songs are irrepressibly bouncy American rock that manages to work into the brains of the somewhat sparse and curmudgeonly crowd and soon has them singing and dancing along gamely. ‘Way Back (The conflict)’ in particular is a song of fiendish catchiness and charm. Overall, Super Happy Fun Club provided a fantastic start to the evening and win themselves quite a few new fans in the process.

Next up are Fearless Vampire Killers, a band who always manage to raise a smile in even the grumpiest audience member. Their lyrics may often veer into the darker side of life, but they’re still an absolute joy to watch, as all of them, with the exception of drummer Luke, spring about the stage like they’re rocket powered and seemed to be enjoying things just as much as the audience are.  New single ‘All Hallows Evil’ sounds suitably dramatic in a live setting and provides a highlight of their set. Final number ‘At War with The Thirst’ provided a stirring conclusion to their set and really showed off the powerful voice of singer Laurence Beveridge, as well as his engaging stage presence. The crowd were certainly receptive to the band’s charm and they received an absolutely rapturous reception, which was thoroughly well deserved.

When Madina Lake finally took to the stage there’s quite an emotional atmosphere in the room, given that this was to be the second to last show they will ever perform on British shores. However, it became clear as they launched into their first song that this was not going to be night of sadness, but more of a night of celebration. Madina Lake are certainly a heavier band live than they are on record and they’re the first band who actually managed to get a small mosh pit going among the crowd.  Highlights of Madina Lake’s set included the soaring ‘Let’s Get Outta Here’ and ‘Never Take Us Alive’, but the pace of their set flagged a bit during the lesser known songs, which can all start to blend into each other somewhat. Not that this bothered the devoted faithful though, who knew every line and sang their hearts out. After the band left the stage for the first time the chants of “one more song” took mere seconds to begin and they duly returned to perform a storming encore which contains a brilliant rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. It provided a great end to the evening, and on the strength of this show Madina Lake will certainly be a much missed band.

Photo courtesy of Jack Goodrum of Rock Harder Images

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