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Live review: Wilson @ The Joiners, Southampton, 3/3/2016


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For almost two weeks now, the hard-rocking Wilson and the supporting Reigning Days have been running amok all over the UK.


For both bands, it has been a fortnight of booze, fuckery and rock n’ roll, culminating in tonight’s intense, insane, “tasty nasty” tour finale in the Southampton Joiners.

The end of any tour is always a time for a band to bring out the big guns, and tonight is no exception. Not one, but two local acts provide the warm-up for a rowdy (and somewhat intoxicated) Southampton crowd.

First among them is sludge/grunge/punk rockers Arid Wave (★★★★☆). Immediately it becomes apparent that the angst-ridden trio are the local sweethearts as – especially for an opening band in a smaller venue – they receive an amazingly warm response from the not-quite-drunk audience. Many an Arid Wave t-shirt can be spotted as the band begins their set.

For half-an-hour, the Southampton three-piece give their hometown a Nirvana-esque kicking, even as guitarist/vocalist Ben Palmer’s guitar strap snaps halfway through their set.

Arguably the strongest aspect about Arid Wave’s short performance however is not the music – which, don’t get me wrong, is utterly fantastic – but the band’s charisma. Palmer and bassist/vocalist Brogan Turner’s interactions both on the microphone and off are just naturally likeable, showcasing just how much passion this band has for the music it makes.

Arid Wave’s set peaks at their cover of T-Rex’s classic '20th Century Boy', before the group go on to tease new material from their upcoming EP.

Overall, the young Arid Wave provides an amazing opening performance, setting the bar high for the next act: Lonely Dakota (★★★☆☆).

The second of tonight’s dual local bands, Lonely Dakota’s set is sadly marred with technical issues before it even begins, as difficulties with the band’s guitars seem to delay the start of the performance.

And towards the middle and end of the show, these problems only resurrect themselves: guitars come through the amp clean when they are meant to be distorted, and sometimes even cut out altogether.

Yet, aside from this, Lonely Dakota put on a solid performance.

Their style of music is that of standard modern rock, providing plenty of power chords and melodic vocals. There’s nothing wrong with what Lonely Dakota play, but to truly excel, the band need to defy more typical rock conventions and create something that surprises audiences. Whether that be musically or in regard to their live shows, the band needs to add a twist to their music, even if it is a very small one.

Third on the bill is the main supporting act in Reigning Days (★★★★☆). Much like Lonely Dakota, Reigning Days specialise in straight-forward rock n’ roll, yet also have the on-stage charisma of Arid Wave. They serve as the perfect warm-up for the more aggressive and in-your-face Wilson.

The highlight of the band’s set came during its closing song, as the rocking trio play like it is their day on Earth before being joined on the stage by Wilson’s bassist James Lascu.

Lascu runs onto the stage wearing nothing but his underwear. He has a two foot penis drawn on his back in marker pen. On his torso, someone has written “Raining gays”. He proceeds to pull a banana from his pants and shove it into the face of Reining Days’ bassist Jonny Finnis. Then he moons drummer Joe Sansome before stage-diving.

You honestly can’t make this stuff up. That’s how you now James Lascu really did these crazy things.

It is at this point that the show begins to feel like a legitimate party – a feeling that doesn’t cease until long after Wilson’s own set – as both bands interact and celebrate their conquest of the United Kingdom.

And then, finally, the almighty Wilson (★★★★★) bring their unique brand of tasty nasty fuckery to Southampton. Just down the road from the city’s O2 Guildhall, where the band supported Halestorm and Nothing More twelve months ago, Wilson prove their power as a headlining group.

Opening with the group’s latest single ‘Give ‘Em Hell’, the performance roars immediately into an aggressive and energetic tirade that continues through to the bitter end. Wilson are easily the heaviest, fastest and most interactive band of the night: their quick-paced onslaught of rock n’ roll feels like what the three bands beforehand have been building up to. So much so that Arid Wave enjoy their very own three-man moshpit directly in front of the stage as the headliners shake the Joiners to the very ground.

Needless to say, Wilson’s show is technically perfect and made even more impressive by the band’s connection with its fans. Many heads bang, many hands clap and there are even a few cases of crowd-surfing and stage-diving mixed in to truly make the night feel like an uncontrollable party. And it’s in this environment that this band can truly thrive.

In between the pummelling cuts that form Wilson’s setlist, lead vocalist Chad Nicefield is second-to-none at engaging with the Southampton crowd, showcasing just how thankful and legitimately surprised the band are by the turn-out for their first headline tour.

And it’s a reception that the band deserve. Wilson pride themselves on having earnt their fanbase the old-fashioned way: by touring all over the world and just being straight-up good at what they do. Hopefully, we can see them in our neck of the woods once again, and preferably sooner rather than later.

Catch our interview with Wilson’s lead singer, Chad Nicefield, here.

Wilson’s latest album, Right to Rise, is available physically and digitally now via Razor & Tie Records.

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