We Are The Ocean + Tall Ships + Allusondrugs @ The Asylum, 9th November 2015

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The key to a great opening band is to grab the audience by the balls and refuse to let go. And it’s this that Allusondrugs are excellent at doing. From lead vocalist Jason Moules’ engaging on stage persona to their urgent grunge tinged songs, they provide an entertaining set to those who’ve got to the venue early enough to catch them. Touring in support of recently released ‘Am I Weird’ EP, opener ‘Stir’ and slower track ‘Sunset Yellow’, an ode to Irn Bru, prove to be the set highlights. First night sound issues seemingly set back Tall Ships in being able to start their set this evening, with the bass guitar apparently being a problem, which becomes only more prevalent once the band takes to the stage as this is, in honesty, the only instrument you can clearly hear. Forming a sound heavily based in electronics, keys and layered instrumental sections it’s noted that their sound is more suited to the later material within the We Are The Ocean catalogue. There are points within their set this evening that you lose yourself within the music and seemingly find yourself whisked away for a while before returning to focus, however as a whole the set lacks any excitement or sense of urgency.

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We Are The Ocean are a strange beast, seemingly unable to decide on both the style of music they wish to pursue and size of venues they wish to tour. Tonight is the first night of their tour in support of latest release ‘Ark’ which saw the band pursue a more indie rock sound as opposed to the alternative rock stance they had held in the past. Visually, the album artwork works great in terms of providing a large backdrop against the stage whilst also finding itself adorned on the drum skin to add a large amount of colour to the set up. Opening with ‘Do It Together’, the crowd is immediately reminded why Liam Cromby still remains one of the best vocalists on the British rock scene and was able to take up sole responsibility of fronting the band a few years ago with the departure of Dan Brown.

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Tonight’s is seemingly heavily influenced by requests placed among various social media sites, and when the second track is ‘Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow’ it’s obvious that they’ve paid attention as this is possibly the first live airing of the track from the record of the same name. The set is littered with fan favourites such as ‘The Waiting Room’, ‘Young Heart’ and ‘Runaway’ as well as two tracks that have been absent from the live arena for a while in the form of ‘What It Feels Like’ and ‘Playing My Heart’. Highlights include a cover of London Grammar’s ‘Hey Now’ which the band recently performed for a Radio One Live Lounge session and acoustic fan favourite ‘Chin Up Son’ before ending on ‘Good For You’ adding a bit of groove and dance ability to see the evening out.

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As both a live and recorded band, We Are The Ocean have always been consistently on top of their game however at this point in time it feels that some identity crisis is perhaps damaging the growth of their audience and reach whereas it perhaps had the ability to grow it. Only time will tell where the band are headed, and loyal fans can only hope that it’s upwards.

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Review: Dan Earl

Photographs: Chris Bowley

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