One of Bristol’s most famous music venues, The Fleece, played host to Aberdeen’s own indie rockers, The Xcerts this week. They took to the roads of the UK after the final release from the ‘Hold on to Your Heart’ studio sessions and after a few postponed shows, they came back for a blast in Bristol.
Local fledgeling alt-rockers Verus (2.5/5) were first to play to the gathered crowd. Frontman Jason Bishop had an abundance of energy, prancing around the stage as he belted out lyrics. Behind him, his band played admirably, sounding huge and seeming animated. For a band so early in their careers, they played a reasonable set. Their sound, while a little generic, conjured thoughts of Hands Like Houses. Despite playing just one show previously, Verus’ enthusiasm shone; they clearly enjoyed themselves on stage and their confidence will carry them far.
Dreamy indie-pop sets Paris Youth Foundation (3/5) apart from the rest. Their relaxed sound is comparable to Catfish and the Bottlemen. Musically, the Liverpudlian trio appears to have it all – a defined sound, a stunning vocal, and an impressive ability to write good songs. But, as their set progressed, it became apparent they played it very safe; from ‘London’ to ‘If You Wanna’, each song sounded similar. Take this away though, and you’ve got a band who clearly enjoy their time on stage. This enjoyment was passed onto the crowd who, for the most part, were nodding their heads in appreciation.
Despite not being sold out, the excitement in the air ahead of The Xcerts (3.5/5) set was clear; bodies pressed closer together as the Aberdeen trio ripped right into ‘Daydream’. At first, only a small portion of the audience sang along, the rest remaining reserved and watching respectfully. Nonetheless, the band were on top form and frontman Murray Macleod seemed to be having a ball as he joked, sang, and encouraged the room to join in.
‘The Dark’ slowed things down for a few moments as Murray’s powerful vocal took centre stage. An increasing number of attendees were singing the words back to him, the chorus of voices sounding wonderful. ‘Slackerpop’, one of The Xcerts earlier songs, took on an entirely different feel when played in front of us. A beefier guitar tone and a lot more raw energy set it apart from songs from 2018’s ‘Hold on to Your Heart’, which seemed much more refined.
While The Xcerts are known for their energetic tunes, it was the delicate acoustic ones that stole the hearts of The Fleece. ‘Cry’ flowed effortlessly into ‘Real Love’ leading the entire room singing. An encore of ‘There is Only You’, ‘Shaking in the Water’ and ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’ saw people dance and jump more than they had all evening.
It took the trio a while to effectively warm the crowd up but once this was achieved, the Fleece was engaged and enjoying themselves, just like the band in front of them. Charismatic, Macleod build a good relationship with the crowd and this connection set them apart from other bands of their calibre.