My name is Steven and it has been 471 days since my last drink.
Well, at a gig.
It’s the longest gap I’ve had in my gig-going since my first gig at 16, so was genuinely thrilled to be back (and apologies if the review is a touch rusty).
But first the venue, and it’s a new one for me.
Future Yard have been excelling with the recent trend of socially-distanced gig (of which tonight was one, only 60 people allowed in) so we were excited to finally see the place in person.
And even more excited to say how great a place it is.
Friendly, welcoming, helpful staff (such a rarity usually), a splendid garden space (which was seemingly filled pre-gig with Liverpool’s finest young bands), delicious and plentiful beer choices (even more of a rarity), but most importantly of all, a cracking room with great sound.
This feels like the sort of place that will become a local gig-goers favourite as time goes by, and it’s easy to forget however good it is with only 60 seated folk, imagine how ace it’ll be when it’s rammed and sweaty.
And it’s quite the act that those stalwart promoters Harvest Sun have lined up for this Sunday’s entertainment.
Black Country, New Road, fresh from their recent Top 5 debut album, For The First Time, are a band that I’ve raved about since their first single almost two years ago, but alas had not yet seen them live.
The clock turns 9:00, and onstage strolls drummer Charlie, with a lovely introduction to the evening, thanking us for coming and asking not to film any of the new stuff that will be played tonight.
The rest of them come up onstage to the dulcet sounds of Uptown Funk and who knew that just seeing a band come onstage after so long would bring a lump to the throat?
The lively tone is kept intact as they launch straight into album opener Instrumental, and it’s quite emotional seeing people playing music in a room filled with people enjoying it.
How we used to take all this for granted.
The second song in is a new one and it’s quite obvious that the new material is quite the gear change, every one they play tonight feels instantly like it’s the best thing they’ve got.
Live, they remind us (of all things) of The Polyphonic Spree, there’s seven individuals all concentrating on their own thing, but making a collective noise.
There doesn’t seem to be a set list as such, it’s more of a vibe, it’s all knowing looks, nods and winks, this is a band that have arrived fully formed and are looking to take their chance and kick on straight away, no resting on their laurels here, no just churning out the album.
They are also uniquely individual in their sartorial choices, which range from a Prince T-shirt to a Wales away kit via a Ringo Starr tour T-shirt.
Science Fair and Track X are the highlights from the songs that we already know but it’s the new ones that fascinate tonight, even allowing them to get away with not playing Athens, France and a reworking of Sunglasses that doesn’t quite hit the spot.
But that small grumbling aside, all in all, it’s a great return, there’s nothing quite like watching a band dripping with self-confidence, not conforming to type.
Escaping for a comfort break after the main set, I then thought I’d gone back into the wrong room.
The band who had been so sincere and heartfelt for the previous hour, were now hamming it up to an alarming degree, akin to a wedding band, on the one-song encore, a rousing rendition of Abba‘s Mamma Mia, which was enough to bring a smile to even those of us who loathe the original, another example of just doing what they want to do rather than what’s expected.
It’s the first and last time you’ll ever see them in such a small venue, and it seems a weird thing to say about a band that has only just released their debut, but on the strength what we have just witnessed, roll on album number two.