Review: Circa Waves at The Hippodrome, Kingston Upon Thames (02/04/2015)

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Hot on the heels of their debut album, Young Chasers, Circa Waves are headlining at the Hippodrome in Kingston Upon Thames, one of the final legs of the album’s promotional tour. With the band being supported by indie newcomers Gengahr, the evening was set to make for a great gig. With the Hippodrome usually holding host to tightly packed club nights, the evening’s gig was also set to be a very intimate one.

The discotheque was sparse when the night began, with commonplace indie tracks playing gently while people hovered around the bars and waited for the band to come on. After a dull half hour or so, Gengahr took to the stage and people flooded the dancefloor in anticipation. Gengahr are undoubtedly a talented bunch, and guitarist John Victor is certainly something special. However, whether it was due to the acoustics of the venue or a degree of reservation on the part of vocalist Felix Bushe, the band’s vocals were exceptionally muffled and lyrics were very hard to discern from alongside the instrumentals. While this is a pretty common occurrence at intimate gigs, the problem seemed especially severe for Gengahr on the evening.

While there was nothing severely wrong with Gengahr’s performance as a live act they simply weren’t able to, despite their best efforts, captivate the audience. Judging by their recorded material the band undoubtedly has talent, but they have a long way to go in their live performances. The lack of a discernible sound from Gengahr meant the dance floor soon began to look sparse once more, as revellers flocked to the bars in droves while they waited in anticipation for the main act to take over. They didn’t have to hold their breath for long, with Circa Waves taking to the stage seemingly immediately after Gengahr left. Whether this was driven by an eagerness to play or a desire to set things right after the lukewarm reception the crowd gave to Gengahr’s mediocre performance, we will never know. If the band did desire the latter, they seemed to do a fairly decent job of it.

Circa Waves also seemed to suffer a similar fate to Gengahr, although to less of a degree, failing to have their vocals stand out particularly clearly from the instrumentals and background noise. Despite this, they boys did a far better job of capturing their audience than their predecessors, although this was no surprise considering they were of course the ones most people had come to see. The band well and truly rocked it and the dance floor was quickly refilled as the crowd rushed back from the bars to see them take the spotlight. An upbeat and lively set followed and the room’s energy didn’t dissipate once for the next hour. The set left the crowd hungry for more and the evening was topped off with a fantastic encore ending with the titular track from Young Chasers; a fast paced and riff heavy number which, judging by the sheer number of mosh pits it triggered, was very well received. Circa Waves certainly know how to please a crowd and while their album debut has received a somewhat mixed response from critics, they certainly have a bright future to look forward to performing for their modest but highly dedicated fan base.

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