Live Reviews

Van Susans, Affairs & Staring Out The Sun @ Proud, Camden

Some may be foolish enough to think that you’ll struggle to come across a night of trail-blazing music on a Tuesday evening. Some people also still think that the Earth is flat. I spent this Tuesday in the company of three fine bands who provided a staggering display of musical brilliance that still has me buzzing days later – full credit has to go to The Amp Session for putting together this night of such high quality.

Kicking off the night in an incredibly intense style were the Staring Out The Sun. Whilst the bass and drums powered away, impressing throughout, they were outshone by a selection of wonderful guitar play and a lead vocalist who had more on-stage energy than anyone that I’d seen in quite some time (though he was about to encounter stiff competition when the next band had their say). It was a selection of strong rock tunes, led by a lead vocal that managed to capture the essence of the genres tone. Backing vocals were also ably supplied from either side of the lead and all 4 members of the band seemed to be so immersed within the music that it felt like a spirit left the room when they vacated the stage.

They were swiftly followed by a rather different outfit in the form of Affairs. Though I can’t say I was the biggest fan of their lead singer’s dance moves, his confidence on stage was something surely to be admired and, with a voice that somehow combined Morrissey with almost operatic undertones, there’s no doubting that his will be a voice that sticks in my head for some time to come. There was a wonderful use of technology, combined with a standard 2 guitars, bass and drums set up which consisted of musicians who are all very much at the top of their craft. There’s plenty of potential in this lot.

And so it was the turn of the headliners to face a rather daunting prospect: following two acts that had done such an incredible job in support that they’d be hard to eclipse. Were Van Susans up to the challenge? They were up for it more than John Terry is for a cup final. With the third unique, shining voice of the night, the band had a unity unlike any other I’ve seen. With sharp cut-offs that were tighter than me when it comes to buying rounds, the band were simply and utterly flawless – it was like watching Bellowhead  I was utterly enthralled by all manner of bass licks, drum fills, stringed genius and every little thing that they threw at the audience – additional members Tim Dullaway and Barney Morse-Brown fit in so seamlessly that you’d think they were regulars. There’s absolutely no way that Van Susans are going to be anything other than absolutely huge, it would be a crime against music if they don’t end up rivalling this ‘Sliced Bread’ everyone seems to be talking about.

Photo by Oliver Prout.

Ciaran Steward

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