Piano heavy pop rock band Sunset Sons played to a roomful of home crowd at the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth on Friday night, the venue was absolutely packed as the night progressed and everybody had an amazing time dancing and singing along to their big tunes and infectious choruses.
Doors opening at 6pm is a novelty to me, hence I expected the first act to come on early. However they came on at 7.15pm, meaning those who got in early had waited for over one solid hour. The overly loud music playing in the background was quite an overkill as well, ringing my ear drums even when I had ear plugs in. Despite that, the used-to-be fire station, has some nice decor and lighting, noticeably the neon sign at the bar.
As the first local Bournemouth act, Jawbone, walked on stage and guitarist Ben Waugh tuned his guitar, the feedback seriously put me off. I frowned through the whole of their first song as the PA slowly fixed the issue. There were not much audience at the time but Jawbone played faithfully to all. Interludes between their songs are instrumental, which showed how solid their musical skills are. The guitar work and intense punchy drums intertwined together and formed a very rich and bold sound. They sounded really good and their songs grew on me one by one; as the guitarist moved his fingers along the strings in increasing pace while his vocals followed, drummer Deano Donovan shut his eyes and hit the drums smiling, there was no doubt they enjoyed playing on stage. With only two members and creating such a room filling sound, their solid skills deserved to be praised.
Shortly after Jawbone walked off stage, Cornwall folk band Haunt the Woods came on due to overrun and delay in set schedule. Four members on different instruments gave them a head start on a fuller sound. However their music seemed to be relatively less intense compared to Jawbone’s at times bluesey guitar riffs heavy tracks. I had to walk away after three songs but of the songs I heard it is easy to tell they are quite experienced performers; their energy on stage is undeniable and interactions with audiences were sophisticated.
Sunset Sons were absolutely phenomenal. The packed roomful of people grooved to every song and belted out the lyrics of their firm favourites. Rory Williams on the keyboard is also an amazing vocalist. He also got very personal with people in the crowd throughout the night; checking if his siblings got in okay or whether his mates were boozing instead of clapping, or nodding at/pointing out particular audiences who started a clap along or sing along first. Williams made everyone feel very appreciated and it is exactly this humble attitude which tends to shine through their songs. Lyrics are not composed of the most difficult vocabularies but are instead direct and relatable, making them easily memorable and highly satisfying to sing along to, especially with a mass of passionate people. Whether it is new tracks like ‘Disco Bands’ from their upcoming debut album due out in September, or oldie but goodie ‘On The Road’ and ‘Remember’, no matter how they started at the beginning, they all ascended to an emotional climax that made Sunset Suns’ tracks very enjoyable to hear both in recording and live. A rendition of Jamie T’s ‘Sticks n’ Stones’ demonstrated the possible diversities in their style of performance; they have so much potential in them to be festival favourites.
Going to a gig in a new city and new venue can be rather exciting when familiarity and expectations are stripped away, I genuinely had a great night being exposed to new acts and performances. One thing that is out of everyone’s control is the poor sound system, nonetheless all three acts put on a very good performance and they deserved every clap given out during the night.
Visit sunsetsons.com for their full list of tour dates including their UK tour in May.