REVIEW: Brand New @ The Southampton Guildhall – 10/2/12

It’s been a fair while since Brand New last graced our shores, with their last show being a one-off performance at Wembley Arena in 2010. Now back on an eight-date UK tour, the band don’t have a new album to support; they’re just here for the fans. The Guildhall seemed like the perfect venue for Brand New, it was large enough so that enough fans could enjoy the sold-out show without it feeling overbearing.
The band played a career-spanning set list that took songs from every corner of their discography. Brand New have always enjoyed having an avid fan-base in the UK and it’s obvious that tonight that they’re totally humbled by that. “You always make us feel so at home over here, England.” Frontman Jesse Lacey said to the admiring crowd, “It’s quite strange and wonderful“. Brand New were in high spirits, and their performance tonight showed it marvellously.
The band didn’t play any new material at all, but that didn’t matter – everyone knew why they were here tonight and the atmosphere was electric. They played through a robust set, spanning eighteen songs in the ninety minutes they were on stage. The set moved from album to album, playing chunks of each album at a time. Starting with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, they moved onto Daisy, Déjà Entendu and Your Favourite Weapon respectively, before coming full circle with more tracks from The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.
Brand New arrived stealthily on stage and were greeted with rapturous applause. Without saying a word they proceeded with the instrumental ‘Welcome To Bangkok’. It set the atmosphere perfectly, with the track building up slowly towards the explosive climax, with a post-rock feel to it. It transitioned swiftly into ‘The Archers Bows have Broken‘, with the upbeat rhythms getting the crowd into a frenzy.
Lacey‘s voice has an imperfect and raw nature to it, similar to Neutral Milk Hotel‘s Jeff Mangum– a hero of his. It really shows the passion being put across by the guy. He also shows a diverse range of vocal styles throughout, from the screeching vocals found in ‘Vices’, to the softer tones of ‘Jesus Christ’. He makes alterations to the flow and melody of some songs, and it makes them feel more personalised to the specific show. It feels like he’s so emotionally attached to the songs, few can replicate his intensity on stage.
When they were at their heaviest, you could feel the whole venue shake with ecstatic furore. Two drummers were employed during these moments, and it really emphasised how loud this band could actually be when they wanted to. Brand New are a band that enjoy taking advantage of making songs that can at one moment be quiet and serene, and the next, explode into a torrent of impassioned roaring from Lacey. The best example from the night was on ‘You Won’t Know’. The build up to the first instance of this happening was incredible – the crowd knew what was going to follow, and the build up was awe-inspiring.
‘Soco Amaretto Lime’ was the definitive apex of the gig. With Lacey alone on stage donning just an acoustic guitar, it felt very intimate despite the room being filled with just shy of 2,000 fans.Lacey had complete control of the room. He was like a hypnotist, keeping the crowd under his possession at all times. Every word  he sang was echoed in unison by the whole room. By the end the volume of people singing ‘You’re just jealous ’cause we’re young and in love‘ was quite overwhelming. Jesse ended the song by changing the lyrics to “I’m just jealous ’cause you’re young and in love“. The sincerity in his voice was touching.
The last three songs in particular were a highlight for me, they were the perfect trio to send off the evening. It mixed in everything that made Brand New great – the tranquillity of ‘Jesus Christ’, the wholesome ferocity of ‘Degausser‘ and the haunting intensity of ‘You Won’t Know’. Where ‘You Won’t Know’ usually ends on record with Lacey repeating “You won’t know“, the crowd refused to stop echoing those three words until the band had disappeared from the stage, as if clinging onto their performance, not wanting it to end.
Whether or not Brand New will ever record a new album remains to be seen, but if they just kept doing what they did tonight from now until forever, I couldn’t be any happier. They really do have no equal.
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