Brand New began the first night of their European tour last night at Southampton Guildhall, where they last played in 2012. After tonight’s performance it’s easy to see that it must be exhausting to perform such intensely emotional songs night after night, and their time away seems to have enabled them to return on top form and deliver an incredibly powerful performance.
The first support act came from the well-received Jersey-natives, The Front Bottoms who were extremely energetic and lively. With witty song lyrics, a poppy and upbeat sound, and a charisma that shone through, they were a great opening act. Their catchy and fun songs ‘Twin Sized Mattress‘ and ‘The Beers‘ are good examples of their individual sound and sarcastic lyrics: ‘And I will remember that Summer/ as the summer I was taking steroids / cause you like a man with muscles / and I like you.’ The crowd were enthusiastic and joined in and the band did a good job at picking up the atmosphere.
The enjoyable start to the night was put on a temporary hold during the Saves The Day set which sounded like one long 40 minute song. The lead singer’s distinctive, slightly nasal croon meant they were evidently a somewhat polarizing band, half the the crowd was incredibly still and the other half was full of loyal passionate fans having the time of the lives screaming along to ‘Ring Pop‘. Perhaps Saves The Day are a band that found their niche in the pop-punk/emo heyday, but their sound is one that feels somewhat leftover and outdated.
Then it was time for Brand New to take the stage. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say Brand New are a band that are close to many people’s hearts, providing the soundtrack to their youths, and it seems absence has made the heart grow fonder as the crowd appeared to be completely transported back.
Starting the show with two intense and heavy songs from Daisy, ‘Sink’ and ‘Gasoline’ frontman Jesse Lacey’s capacity to alternate between tuneful screams and haunting whispers, and the atmospheric use of lights at all the right moments was a great start to the show, followed by evocative ‘Sowing Seasons’ and ‘Millstone’, played with the utmost passion and energy. The show then suddenly became a flashback as there was a heavy emphasis on tracks from Your Favourite Weapon and Deja Entendu.
Although Brand New have grown a lot musically and lyrically with their last two albums Daisy and The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, and the majority of the crowd were no longer adorned in quite as much eyeliner and black as I remember from past shows, the crowd were clearly feeling nostalgic as they went wild for old favourites, Seventy times 7 and Sic Transit Gloria screaming along to “Die Young and Save Yourself”. Lacey’s trademark sarcasm and acerbic wit was shown off in ‘Okay, I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’, with his croons of “We are the best at what we do/ This is the way you wish you voice sounds/ Handsome and Smart” – you know he’s probably not wrong.
Although the band looked like they were having a great time on stage and the crowd was going wild chanting along to every word, whilst atmospheric and extremely enjoyable, I found it slightly disappointing that the fans seem to respond best to these songs from 2003 and 2001, and be so reluctant to embrace the newer albums. As a band that has grown so much, developing their sound to include some of the most intelligent and compelling songwriting within the genre, it seems a shame to for the band to have to be so dependent on their older material to evoke a wild crowd response. Having said that, it was a special and intimate feeling being surrounded by such die-hard fans.
As the show was nearing an end, and just as I was slightly panicking that I had outgrown the band that had been the soundtrack to my youth amongst a crowd who were happy reminiscing, the band thankfully switched back to TD&GARIM playing haunting, intense versions of ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘Degausser’, and ending on the powerful ‘You Won’t Know’ which echoed in my mind long afterwards.
Watching them live, you understand why they don’t feel the need to do many interviews – the music does the talking, and the glimpses of Jesse Lacey’s charm and wit between songs are enough to satisfy the mystery of Brand New.
Even if you missed the show, it’s be worth digging through your old CD collection and putting Brand New on again and paying tribute – the great Brand New are back with old songs and on excellent form.