Amber Run returned to Exeter to play Phoenix off the back of their new album, For A Moment, I Was Lost. Support came from Meadowlark and Island. Meadowlark played as a two-piece, playing some interesting yet slightly chart-friendly pop. Nevertheless, they put on an impressive set, and are definitely worth a listen.
Island, the second support, are a four-piece who played a gentle, melodic brand of indie. Their sound centres on clean guitar riffs that make heavy use of delay. Their restrained and refined sound is best evidenced by the excellent ‘Dreaming Of’, a single from their recent EP A Place You Like.
Amber Run’s UK tour almost never happened, at least according to Joe Keogh, the lead singer. Talking to the audience he stated that the band had “fallen out of love with music”. Their style, from listening to their releases, is gentle pop, all harmonies and emotional ballads. The surprise comes with the energy that the band have live. Keogh throws himself around the stage like the frontman of a rock band, unleashing some pent-up passion in the process. You realise that the band revolves around him, he was funny and open on stage, and with that much enthusiasm he can’t help but be the centrepiece of the band.
“Fuck it, we’re going to go off for a bit then we’ll be back on for five more.”
The older hits were not left out of the set, with ‘Spark’, ‘5 AM’ and ‘I Found’ all making an appearance; this got a fantastic reaction from the crowd. Amongst the new songs, ‘Perfect’ and ‘Dark Bloom’, both are slightly heavier and have a somewhat more noticeable drum part – perhaps due the band’s recent change in drummer. ‘Perfect’ has a decent guitar riff running through it, and ‘Dark Bloom’ builds exceptionally. The songs off the new album still utilise the vocal harmonies that make their sound unique.
Keogh joked about the encore, “fuck it, we’re going to go off for a bit and then we’ll be back on for five more.” At the start of their set he had told us that when they last played Exeter they had their first ever encore as a band, showing how far they’ve come since the first album.
‘Haze’ off ‘For a Moment, I Was Lost’, shows off the vocal abilities of the whole band; it is perhaps more of a throwback to ‘5 AM’, with a more relaxed feel, but still powerfully emotional. The backing vocals were great throughout the gig, but here seemingly the entire band were contributing to some impressive vocal harmonies.
‘No Answers’, the biggest single from the new album, was saved for the end. The song encapsulated the new feel of Amber Run, with impressive vocals, punchier vibes, and a hefty wedge of feeling. Leaving Phoenix, there was an immense sense of satisfaction. The band had had delivered an uplifting and triumphant return to form. The joy of returning to touring was on show for the audience to feel, and Keogh really wears his heart on his sleeve.
The best news is that Amber Run are playing the inaugural ExeFest on campus this year; so if you are still looking for a reason to go, they are it.
Find ExeFest tickets HERE.