Young Guns + The Swellers + Japanese Voyeurs @ Birmingham HMV Institute, 24th November 2010


It’s my first visit to the newly refurbished HMV institute and the old Barfly venue has scrubbed up pretty well. Although not the first night of the tour it’s the first night with the full bill, The Swellers has missed the previous gig in Leeds due to flight problems but thankfully everything was back on track for the Birmingham leg.


Due to the joys of public transport I only caught the last half of the Japanese Voyeurs set. The band have received a lot of praise in the music press and front woman Romily Alice graced the front cover of Rock Sound a couple of issues back. I hate to say this but 99% of the time female vocalists in bands just annoy me and it’s the case for these guys. The music sounds great, it’s a heavy, grungy sound but I just can’t get behind the vocals. Romily is maybe trying to hard to be the next Courtney Love or Brody Dalle but its not working for me and it doesn’t exactly win over the crowd either.


Local boys Strangle Kojak are charged with entertaining the crowd between the bands this evening with a DJ set. There are some very choice songs thrown in to the mix, plus some Refused and Paramore which actually gets a circle pit going, all in all they do a great job of keeping the crowd warmed up.

The Swellers are up next and definitely seem to be happy about being on UK soil and supporting ‘their good friends’ in Young Guns. Hailing from Flint, Michigan more well know for its car manufacturing and appearance in Michael Moore documentaries then producing quality Punk Rock bands The Swellers put on a great show. Opening with 2009 the first track off the latest album Ups and Downsizing lead singer Nick Diener’s voice seems a bit rusty but after a couple of songs he’s back on track and Fire Away and Do You Feel Better Yet sound great. The highlight of the set is defiantly the anthemic Dirt, its depressing lyrics about death set to an upbeat punk style are just perfect and I take great joy in singing along.


With quite possibly one of the strangest intro tracks I’ve heard coming over the PA Young Guns take to the stage to the voice of Elvis Presley singing Can’t Help Falling in Love With You’. In the name of Movember all of Young Guns are sporting some very tasty if slightly pervy moustaches. It doesn’t seem to have diminished their sex appeal though especially that of front man Gustav Wood as when he takes to the stage the scream is the loudest.


Young Guns could be forgiven for putting on a less then perfect show tonight as Gustav is clearly suffering from a bad bout of the flu. He tells the Birmingham crowd that they were going to cancel but decide to fight it out instead. They kick things off with Sons of Apathy and it’s clear from the start that Gustav is struggling and the vocals suffer as a result but he’s forgiven as he still giving it his all. He even makes it off the stage and onto the barrier as arms stretch out to grab a piece of him as he blasts out In The Night. He addresses the crowd asking for their help, ‘I know you can do this Birmingham’ and the crowd are more than willing to sing every word and a circle pit opens up and crowd surfers make their to way to front.


It’s guitarist Fraser Taylor’s birthday and the crowd sing Happy Birthday to a clearly embarrassed man! New single Weight of the World has the crowd whipped into a frenzy and is a great way to end the show.


The band leaves the stage to rapturous applause and Elvis Presley is back crooning out of the speakers as the crowd make their way out of the venue. As Gustav put it ‘I’ve never seen a crowd carry a show as much as this one’ and it’s true. Young Guns won me over tonight the sheer passion and determination to play music and with devoted fans like the ones at the show tonight they have the all the tools to take them anywhere they want to go.

Review – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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