Already 2017 has proved to be something of a nostalgia trip for UK pop-punk and emo fans. The upshot of that being twofold, one being the chance to celebrate anniversaries of great music by hearing the songs live, with the second being said songs making us feel rather older than we would like. The latest act to bring such a tour our way were New Jersey indie-punk anthem crafters The Early November, who made a rare trip to the UK as part of the 10th Anniversary tour for triple album ‘The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path’. Already Heard caught the penultimate night of the tour at The Key Club in Leeds.
By happy coincidence local openers for the show just happened to be one of our 50 Bands to watch in 2017, Beach Head, giving us one of our first chances to witness them live since they formed out of the remnants of Leeds melodic punkers Calls Landing last year. They wasted little time in impressing, the bite of the crunching guitars providing a solid counterpoint to frontman Joe’s emotive vocals. ‘Shade’ stood out as both a set highlight and strong reminder that their debut EP ‘Take Me to Heaven’ is well worth a listen. (3.5/5)
Next up Dryjacket, were out to show just why Hopeless Records recently put out their debut full-length ‘For Posterity’. The New Jersey outfit churned out peppy slices of that classic North-East US indie-punk sound, that soon got the modest crowd nodding its heads appreciatively in time as the stop-start guitars and immaculately crescendoing tracks washed over them. The likes of ‘Epi Pen Pals’ and ‘Bill Gates’ Ringtone’ sound great live and will see this lot going down awfully well with fans still mourning the loss of Transit and Man Overboard. (3.5/5)
Given that the album they were here to celebrate features some 40 plus tracks, this was either going to be one hellish long headline set from ‘The Early November’ or they were going to seriously picky with the songs they played from it. Frontman Ace Enders set an initially odd tone by quipping “we’re going to play lots of songs from this album now, and the songs you probably like better later”. Rather begging the question why play songs you think fans like less?
In the event that point was a moot one as ‘Hair’ and ‘A Little More Time’ soon showed this would be a set of the very best cuts from the record. With both the quality of the songs being played, and the aplomb with which the band still deliver them live, it’s a mystery how this lot never became something approaching Jimmy Eat World type status. The sound, the lyrical content and poignancy and the heartbreaking hooks of the vast majority of the tracks we get from ‘TMTMaTP’ would, if you didn’t know better, be indicative of an album destined for classic status that would be the launch pad for huge things. Who knows maybe it would have been had said songs been originally delivered in a more digestible format and number. ‘Money In His Hand’ provided an early highlight provoking a spirited crowd reaction and respectable singalong, before ‘No Good At Saying Sorry (one more chance)’ slowed things down and featured a cool guest spot from Dryjacket’s Joe Junodon trumpet.
The good-natured banter between Enders and guitarist Joseph Marro made for a fun atmosphere throughout breaking up some of the emotionally intense material being played. An airing of delicate acoustic ballad ‘Thousand Times a Day’ both underpinned how handy Enders is with a sweet lyrical narrative and how ruddy his flexible his hands are as he broke out some distinctly awkward chords to ease the anniversary portion of the set to a close.
‘Narrow Mouth’ noticeably notched up the energy levels in the room, showing plenty of people present were also fans of the band’s newer material, but it was old favourites ‘I Want To See You Sad’ and ‘The Mountain Range in My Living Room’ that drew some of the lustiest sing-alongs. But it was a solo Enders performance of heart string tugging acoustic anthem ‘Ever So Sweet’ that will live longest in the memory from this night. As will the lasting impression that The Early November must be one of the criminally underrated bands of the last decade. Live these New Jersey (no longer) boys have it all, great presence, massive tunes to bellow your heart out to and a back catalogue worthy of superstars just waiting to be rediscovered. If they can stay out of hiatus long enough these cult heroes legacy is only going to get better. (4/5)
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)