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Live review: Citizen @ The Dome, London (30/01/16)


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There’s a good vibe in The Dome tonight. Young Londoners bustle about the bar, merrying away the stresses of the working week. Gaggles of eager teenagers mill around the merch tables, deliberating which new addition to make to their collection, while chatting away to the various band members who’ve popped out front. It feels welcoming, familiar.

First up are Fade, an alt-rock outfit hailing from Birmingham and Leeds. The band gather a decent crowd with their turbulent riffs and hefty drums that blend to create a dense, weighty sound. Clean vocals feed moodily through thick, sludgy guitar chords and crooked melodies, reminiscent of the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins and early Silverchair.

Opening with the kaleidoscopic ‘New Scream’, taken from their latest release Peripheral Vision, second act Turnover are warmly welcomed by a now almost full Dome. Evidently, Citizen aren’t the only band people are here to see tonight.

And as mesmerising melodies shimmer above a driving beat, and light, wistful vocals sail effortlessly from the stage, it’s not hard to understand why. Turnover are enchanting. ‘Dizzy on the Comedown’ floats dreamily across the room as stage lights flicker and fade from red to a deep, pensive blue.

Turnover write the kind of songs that you can lose yourself in entirely, and wake up somewhere else. The four-piece have a unique delicacy and grace that translates into a captivating live performance. It's as if the floor of The Dome has transformed into a soft white cloud, and you're watching Turnover drifting somewhere high up in the sky.

It doesn’t take long for headliners Citizen to cause total chaos. The energy in The Dome is astounding – only moments into pounding opening track ‘The Summer’, and people are already hurling themselves on stage, darting between the rather surprised band members, and diving and somersaulting back into the audience as if it’s a swimming pool.  

This is the biggest show Citizen have ever headlined, and they’ve brought everything they’ve got.

Jake Duhaime’s drumming is relentless, Nick Hamm’s guitar work is scintillating, and the intensity and rawness of frontman Mat Kerekes’ vocals is remarkable. The menacing bassline of Everybody Is Going To Heaven's ‘Cement’ prowls daringly across the room, and ‘Stain’ is furious. Kerekes’ visceral screams pierce the air like daggers.

Citizen’s live set is constantly engaging. One moment, you’re rooted to the spot, transfixed by a hypnotic number like ‘Yellow Love’, and the next, you’re losing your shit in a tidal wave of crushing heaviness during ‘My Favorite Color’. But Citizen themselves never get swept up in the wave.

Melody, sophistication and complexity are never sacrificed – and it's this control, this adept use of dynamics, that sets Citizen apart from other bands who endeavor to do the same.

There’s something about tonight that feels particularly special. It could be in the hands-in-the air moment of ‘Sleep’, or the impassioned crowd sing-along to a stunning rendition of ‘The Night I Drove Alone’. Or perhaps it’s in the entirely unplanned encore of Young States' ‘Drown’, which sees the audience almost completely take over singing duties.

But what really makes tonight special is that Citizen aren’t trying to be anything that they’re not. It’s not about proving anything, or fitting into a certain scene.

It’s about the music – it’s about meaning it, feeling it, and giving it every damn thing you’ve got.

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