Circa Waves at NAC 1/12/18 - Review
After the release of singles ‘Movies’ and ‘Be Somebody Good’, Liverpool indie rock staple; Circa Waves, play to a sold-out crowd at Norwich Arts Centre.
The show is opened by the relatively new act, Ed The Dog, only forming this year. They deliver a proficient, accessible and fun start to the show. Their music is characterised by intricate and funky guitar riffs combined with wholesome and sonically pleasing vocal harmonies. They are clearly strong musicians. Frontman, Ed Wetenhall, interacts well with the crowd, leading them in chants of “Harry Potter, Harry Potter” and, to be honest, he does look a lot like Daniel Radcliffe. Their angular riffs appear influenced by The Cribs or The Strokes and their vocal style is reminiscent of The Wombats – Wetenhall sounding very similar to Wombats frontman, Matthew Murphy. Highlights of the set include ‘Shame’ and ‘Television Era’.
Circa Waves open with ‘Fire That Burns’, a single from their second album, Different Creatures. This causes the crowd to erupt instantly. This is followed by ‘Get Away’, the opening track of their much-loved first album, Young Chasers. For me, this is a nostalgic and much-welcomed throwback to Summer 2015.
Throughout the set, frontman, Kieran Shudall, commands the crowd well in his warm scouse drawl – “I’ve heard Norwich are pretty good dancers – show us your best moves”. His stage persona has previously received comparisons to Alex Turner during his AM/“that rock and roll ay” phase. This is very much evident during this show, although Shuddall somewhat tones down the Americanisms. Before they play ‘Goodbye’, he calls for the crowd to split down the middle and charge when the beat comes in. This is indicative of the heavier and moodier sound of their second albums tracks.
Norwich Arts Centre never fails to impress me. Formerly the venue was St Swithin's church, becoming the Arts centre in 1980, following a period as a furniture warehouse. One would naturally assume that a church building would be a pretty poor venue to see rock and indie bands in. There has also recently been murmurs amongst the Norwich scene of the switch to a digital desk in the venue, with audiophiles complaining that this has affected the venue’s sound for the worse. However, this proved not to be the case as it was as crisp and clear as ever. It is no surprise that the venue, in 2014, was named “Britain’s Best Small Venue” by the NME.
Circa Waves’ new single ‘Movies’; recently premiered by Annie Mac, and ‘Be Somebody Good’, are both received well. The crowd appear to know the words to these likeable anthems already, despite the fact that they were only released a few days ago. These are the first tracks to be released from the band’s recently announced new album, What’s It Like Over There?, due for release 5th April, 2019.
Circa Waves appear at their strongest when playing first album material. The peak of the evening is inevitably the band’s hit – ‘T-Shirt Weather’. The band initially tease the crowd with the track’s opening chords. It takes only a second or two for the crowd to catch on. It is clear that they have been waiting for this all night. Their rendition of this track is undeniably euphoric and the clear highlight of the set. The band continue the modern practice of not playing an encore. This is a desirable outcome as ‘T-Shirt Weather’ is a closer that could not be topped.
The band only perform for an hour, but this is by no means a complaint. Their set is explosive, consistent and uplifting, successfully brightening up a chilly, winter night and I, like the rest of the crowd, leave the show smiling. Circa Waves have never been ground-breaking by a long shot and are not nearly as relevant as they were upon the release of their first album, but they remain a class act.