Sea Girls

Sea Girls @ o2 Academy, Birmingham, 18th November 2022

This November, indie darlings Sea Girls are embarking on their most ambitious tour to date, taking their ever growing setlist of instant classics out on the road across the UK. Following on from their triumphant debut album ‘Open Up Your Head’, the London based band are eager as ever to bring to life tracks from their recent sophomore release, ‘Homesick’.

Sea Girls

As the soft house lights give way to stirring strobe, lead singer Henry Camamile saunters on stage, looking suave in a shirt and blazer. Joined by bassist Andrew Noswad, drummer Oli Khan and guitarist Rory Young, the four-piece burst into the first number of the night. Set opener ‘Damage Done’ is greeted like an age old hit by the crowd, a sea of waving arms and spilled drinks erupting into the air. “Shall we dance?” implores Camamile, but the ecstatic audience refused to wait for his invitation. The energy is electric for ensuing cuts ‘Lucky’ and ‘Higher’, the first two tracks delivered by way of ‘Homesick’. Released in March of this year, the critically acclaimed second album tackles intrinsic themes of love, loss and belonging. There’s no sense of imposter syndrome amongst the band tonight however, Camomile taking instant control of his stage which he refuses to relinquish for the duration of the show; “We are Sea Girls fans. We are music fans. Do you feel it?”. We feel it.

There’s an undeniable powerful atmosphere amongst the audience that transcends most gigs of this capacity, made no more apparent than during a performance of ‘Ready For More’, a breakout Sea Girls single from 2020. Despite a musical rearrangement that keeps the established song distinguishable from its studio recording, the crowd catches on after the first chord with glee. Camomile is made redundant by the echoes of a thousand voices reciting the lyrics like gospel. “Is this what it feels like to feel adored?” he asks cheekily. According to the reception he receives from the room, the question is strictly rhetorical.

Returning to newer material, the band plays ‘Homesick’ singles ‘Hometown’ and ‘Sleeping With You’. The former title opens on the lyric “Nothing feels real when you’re seventeen”, encapsulating the faded splendour and angst of adolescence. Guitarist Henry Young features heavily, providing a blistering solo that severs through the mix like a blade. The latter song is stripped back and sincere, indulging in the trials, tribulations and turbulence of young love. Backed by resonant piano chords, the aching lyrical refrain wets eyes and shatters hearts. “I’ll never forget her” vows Camomile, displaying that the band’s back catalogue isn’t as one-dimensional as some critics have suggested.

Keen to regain momentum, a mosh pit is hastily organised in time for the introduction of “Why Won’t You Admit”, a hallmark rock song that lends itself to Oli Khan’s ferocious drumming. Leaving no stone unturned from their deepening discography, the band revisits their debut album ‘Open Up Your Head’ with setlist stalwart ‘Violet’. Sound-tracked by retro synths, the stage is bathed in swathes of the appropriate shade. Elsewhere, taken from a 2018 single, Camomile warns the audience of the consequences of “Having too much fun”. His words fall on deaf ears however, the crowd enjoying the time of their lives. It seems that there can be no constraints to having fun in the presence of Sea Girls.

Towards the backend of the set, the band plays ‘Sick’, the first single from the ‘Homesick’ track list. Atop a slow burn bassline by Andrew Noswad, Camomile begins by reciting a rambling list of personal dissatisfactions, from his boredom of The Beatles to dependency on drink and drugs. The song culminates in a critique of geopolitics and global shortcomings, in stark contrast to Camomile’s own frustrations with his laptop and personal relationships. ‘Sick’ is a timely and apt evaluation of the world and where we fit into it, delivered deservingly and appropriately near the end of the evening.

Engaging in typical encore antics, Sea Girls return to the stage for more fan favourites. Chiming guitar riffs ring out around the venue, spelling out the opening of ‘Daisy Daisy’, a tender albeit bittersweet ballad. For their final curtain call, the band chooses a rendition of ‘Call Me Out’, injecting every iota of passion and energy they have left into the closing song. An arena band to be, Sea Girls will find themselves at home wherever the road takes them.

 

Review: George Wainwright

Photographs: Ian Dunn

 

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