• Katie Pilbeam

The Amazons at The Waterfront - Review

The last time The Amazons came to Norwich, I saw them play to a room of no more than twenty people. Two years later, the Reading four-piece returned to the city to pack out the downstairs of the very same venue, their biggest sell out headline show to date.

I come at this review with less impartiality than I am usually able to observe; with this gig clocking in as my eighth Amazons show in the past few years, I wondered how I could make this a fair review, or on the flipside, whether after seeing an act so many times I could still get that gig-buzz.

From the minute the lights went down, and were bought back up to flashing strobes and a tension-building introduction, I knew I would have no concerns with the latter; I got the feeling that this would be an Amazons show like none I’d seen before. As they launched in to an opening of heavy-hitters, latest single ‘Ultraviolet’, followed by ‘Burn My Eyes’ (“This one’s f**king good”, promised frontman Matt Thomson) and ‘Stay With Me’, it hadn’t taken long for the crowd to get going, jumping around and yelling every lyric right back at the band.

The next section of the set paired the old with the new, interspersing album tracks ‘Raindrops’ and ‘Holy Roller’ with an Amazons classic, 'Nightdriving'. When bringing out his acoustic guitar for ‘Holy Roller’, Thomson told the Norwich audience that this was their first time playing the song live on that tour, which had seen them on the road across much of Europe and Asia. This was only one in a day of many firsts for the band; they’d made their debut Radio 1 Live Lounge appearance, were playing the first date of the UK leg of the tour and their first sell out show in Norwich. Despite this, it was clear to see that they’d done this a million times over, more slick and impactful than I’d ever seen them before.

The gig’s momentum kicked right back up to one hundred as the crowd heard the opening notes of ‘Black Magic’, a song that, watching it live I couldn’t help but bet the band had written with their teenage selves in mind, jumping around and getting sweaty just as I was watching the crowd before me do. One of the most impressive moments of the show came as the band smoothly cut in to EP track ‘Millions (The Party)’ midway through the song, and transitioned back out of it perfectly into the mega-riffs of ‘Black Magic’. It was the combination of this, and what followed with ‘Little Something’ that made me realise that this was no longer the band I was used to seeing in tiny pubs in Reading - they’ve hit the next level, and are a proper big-time band now. ‘Little Something’ dripped with confidence, especially as they let the music drop just as the song built to the chorus, leaving the whole room to sing the riff that builds to the songs heady conclusion; with a satisfied smile, Thomson really took his time with the song’s final “Hey … my … little … something”.

The Amazons rounded the night off with a selection of their biggest songs, and after much applause, the crowd were left wondering if the band would return to the stage to finish on the anthemic ‘Junk Food Forever’, and after being kept in suspense for just long enough, the Norwich crowd were treated to another first. Thomson made his way back on stage and took his seat at a keyboard to play album closer ‘Palace’ live, again, for the first time, with the crowd singing the heartfelt ballad at the tops of their voices and an odd phone light in the air for good measure. And of course, the band ended on the massive ‘Junk Food Forever’, a song so catchy that I could hear a girl singing it to herself in the toilet next to me after the gig.

During the gig I realised that my hopes that it would be an Amazons show unlike any I’d seen before had materialised as I watched their confidence on stage, and all the theatrics and show that came with it. I first reviewed The Amazons in 2015, calling them ‘a band to believe in’, and I still stand by that, their success has come as a result of nothing but hard work and constant touring. Best of all, I FINALLY got to see them play 'Palace' live.

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