Rogue States @ Hare and Hounds, 7th June 2010


Tonight’s gig is another in a long line of gigs Rogue States have played at The Hare & Hounds. The Birmingham four-piece could well call it a spiritual home, and tonight’s gig has them on top form.

First up tonight are Australian quartet Blackchords. On record, the band have a much mellower sound – more Coldplay-sounding than anything – but live they are much more raw, and much more enjoyable. After a bit of a false start with the first song due to sound issues, they quickly got back on track. The second track, an untitled new one, is uptempo and melodic, and other new ones dot the set. The real highlights is the acoustic Raise Your Hands, backed with ebowed guitar, before bursting into bluesy life at the end. The closing song’s intertwining guitars rounded out a very enjoyable, if not short, set.


Unlike Blackchords, Rogue States burst right out of the blocks; the storming, synthy opener The Tongue Is A Fire leading straight into the widescreen guitars of Second Wave make for a pretty intense, exciting opening to the set, which contains mostly new songs along with a couple of tracks from their earlier Lights EP. The title track now swaps one of the guitars completely out for synths, but the soaring, Sigur Ros-like middle eight is still as wonderful and organic. Faultline is another great, atmospheric number, but everywhere the band did well on the first attempt they’ve managed to outdo themselves with the newer material, no thanks in part to the guitarist David Wright really finding his sound more – his echoing guitars fill every song, and they’re all the better for it. Rumours/Secrets is a slower-tempo song which bursts into a huge sounding chorus, and elsewhere there’s even more atmosphere. Black Lightning is the most unusual song in the set – starting out with just a droning organ and vocals, before bursting into waves of sliding guitars. Echoes Of The Great Empire is another new one, and probably the closest to the older songs the band wrote, but as with all of the other new material, it’s much more propulsive, with more powerful drumming and basslines that help lead the song more.


The real set highlight, saved right for the end, is the magnificent Favourite Son – a culmination of those guitars, the drums and the bass into one tour-de-force of bluesy atmosphere. A pulsing bassline runs underneath a twanging rythmn guitar, while Michael Clarke’s singing is at it’s most dark and brooding. The song explodes into one of the biggest choruses of the evening, and the climax is even better – it’s not even worth trying to put into words. It’s just incredible, and with an ending like that it’s no wonder most of the people leaving that night were wondering when the record labels would come calling.

Review – Matt Elton
Photos – Lee Jordan

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