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Live Review: Lonely The Brave @ Talking Heads, Southampton - 23/11/2015

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★★★★

Following the re-release of their debut album The Day’s War, summer spots at several festivals including the main stage at Reading and Leeds, and several months in the studio, Cambridge rockers Lonely The Brave returned to Southampton gig spot Talking Heads midway through their November tour. 

They returned to a larger crowd than their last appearance a year ago, yet their recent experience hasn’t changed the way they perform, which you might see as a good thing.

Lead singer David Jakes has a really powerful voice, with a true depth to his tone, and he never gets showy on any of the songs, preferring to the stick to his natural octaves.

But while the other four members of the band played their instruments facing the crowd, all of them demonstrating their skill and their joy at being onstage, Jakes faced into the stage, often shuffling further toward the back.

It makes him a fascinating performer to watch given how little performance he’s indulging in, and given the seemingly more traditional rock and roll presence of his bandmates, he feels distinct. The one point at which he turned more towards his rather sizeable audience was during the closing song ‘The Blue, The Green’, a great track that gradually built the energy and emotion.

Jakes’ shunning of the spotlight put the impetus on his bandmates to pick up the slack, and whilst they’re all great in their distinct parts, with guitarist Ross Smithwick doing great back-up vocals, it’s Mark Trotter, also guitar and vocals, who stood out on stage, and off, as during encore track ‘Black Saucers’ he dropped into the crowd, lost in them as he thrashed out on the strings. He and Jake were right next to each other on stage but their approaches and presence couldn’t have been further apart, making them equally fascinating to watch.

The band moved through their setlist in an entirely straight forward fashion, and despite some technical difficulties in the first half they were upfront and completely down-to-earth, as if they’ve been in a relationship with the Southampton crowd for years, not minutes.

They got their most well known songs like ‘Backroads’ out of the way early on, giving their new songs room to breathe and impress.

One unnamed track has an absolutely captivating riff on lead guitar that goes throughout, whilst ‘Dust & Bones’ could be a future album’s highlight.

Neither the new songs or their show overall were radical departures, but when their first album is as good as it is, and they have the passionate fanbase they do, they don’t need to be.

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