Making their third appearance in Nottingham in 8 months (fourth if you include their recent Rough Trade instore show) We Are The Ocean are no strangers to these parts. However with their fourth album ‘Ark’ freshly out last week, tonight’s intimate show takes place at the Red Room and gives fans the chance to hear the quartet’s new material up close and personal.
Local openers come in the form of Eva Plays Dead. The female-fronted rockers display their brand of grunge-infused hard rock with a mix of hook-y choruses (like on the bands debut single ‘Secret’) and strong, intricate riffs. Meanwhile, vocalist Tiggy Dee seems at home on the stage with her sultry voice and confident presence. Throughout, she does her best to get this reluctant crowd involved. As a unit, Eva Plays Dead have a lot going for them, yet they do come off as your standard hard rock band with domineering sharp riffs. Add to that your typical unknown band opening atmosphere and you’re left with a good but not memorable impression. (3/5)
Next up is Twin Wild who instantly showcase a stirring and bright mix of pop-rock. Their style and presentation has an accessible shine to it that reminds me of Young Guns. Tracks like recent single ‘Another Stranger’ thrive on a driving chorus and towering guitars with Richard Hutchison producing a strong vocal display. Whilst ‘My Heart’ sees him open with a high-pitched display before edgy guitars kick in. ‘Bloodstone’ sees the quartet show a bit of angst as Hutchison introduces as “this is a big fuck you to my ex”. Its running and twisting bassline, punchy drums and light guitars prove to be a good combination whilst Hutchison’s vocals shine throughout. The newcomers see out their set with ‘Fears’, a tight, anthemic number with tribal-like drums, plucky electronics and a strong, soaring chorus that is simply satisfying. Without a doubt Twin Wildhave left us impressed and we’ll be keeping an ear out for them in the coming months. (4/5)
Having witnessed We Are The Ocean a handful of times before, you always know what to expect from the Essex group, and tonight is no different. Jumping right into ‘I Wanna Be’ from the aforementioned ‘Ark’. It’s a rip-roaring rock ‘n’ roll number that ideally opens the show. ‘Machine’ allows everyone in attendance to give their first chance to join in unison for a mass singalong.
While their new straight-up rock style may not have the desired effect on record, in a live setting it’s entirely different. Songs like ‘Do It Together’ and ‘Shere Khan’ are powerful and thrive in a live environment, whilst later on ‘Good For You’ has a more funk-infused feel with hints of The Beatles’ later work. Throw in some old favourites such as the always explosive ‘The Road’ and the bouncy ‘Pass Me By’ and you’re left with a band with a weight of momentum.
‘Hope You’re Well’ slows things down with Liam Cromby’s powerful, soothing vocals taking centre stage, whereas ‘Confessions’ is just as effective in its tendency to leave everyone in the room mesmerised with ‘Ark’. Recent single, ‘Holy Fire’, follows and has a majority of the crowd singing along to its soaring chorus. The same can be said fan favourite ‘Runaway’ with its infectious chorus and ‘Chin Up Son’ tops it with just Cromby and his acoustic guitar leaving the crowd on tenterhooks.
Now four albums deep into their career and having transformed their sound to a more accessible rock sound, tonight is a celebration of how far We Are The Ocean have come and how they have evolved. Nevertheless, you can’t help but feel these songs need to be heard in a bigger venue, something which will be done in due course. (4/5)
Despite the rather questionable openers, Twin Wild and We Are The Ocean left me walking away satisifed. One is an emerging talent that is worthy of keeping an eye on, the other is one that continues to push that glass ceiling to bigger things.