The four-piece from Reading have been making waves since they crashed on to the music scene in 2014, but 2017 has been a big year for them, as they’ve been included in the BBC’s Sound of 2017 and MTV’s Brand New 2017 lists, and named a band to listen to in 2017 by NME, The Independent and BBC Radio 1. In addition to all this, it’s seen the release of their self-titled debut album, and a slew of pretty much non-stop touring around the UK and Europe, with even some stops in the States. So, among this hectic schedule, I was excited to see a stop in Exeter on their agenda. Upon my arrival at Exeter Phoenix, I was pleasantly surprised to see, rather than the younger crowd you usually come across at these indie band gigs, a varied demographic of old and young, all chattering away excited to see the act of the evening.
Before the main act was up-and-coming rock band The Pale White, whom The Amazons were sure to thank multiple times during their set, but the audience’s response to the support was lacklustre. Whether it was because they didn’t know the band or not, the audience was not relating to what The Pale White was putting out – one of their songs had the repeated lyrics: “I want a reaction”, and the audience was not complying. Luckily, once the main act came out, the audience became more lively.
For some bizarre reason, the band’s entrance onstage was prefaced by AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’, but soon kicked off the set with ‘Ultraviolet’, which set off the younger crowd moshing at the front. For the uninitiated, ‘Ultraviolet’ is an Amazons song that wouldn’t be amiss on a teen drama soundtrack, more melodic and less brash and rocky than some of their other pieces. The pace was soon upped, however, with the rest of the set, which should have come with a warning, because the strobe lighting was intense. ‘Burn My Eyes’, ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘Nightdriving’ were some of the next hits with the audience, particularly the baby moshers at the front, even inciting some short-lived crowd-surfing.
In critical reviews, The Amazons defining characteristic has been said to be their capacity for absolutely killer refrains, and this was shown in ‘Black Magic’. As soon as the first few notes were heard, the audience were mad for it, jumping and singing along, as they were for ‘Little Something’, which showcased Matt’s incredible vocal range, and ‘In My Mind’ – another fantastic riff. The band’s brash, loud image was solidified with some entertaining drum solos from drummer Joe Emmett. However, they chose for the penultimate song, ‘Palace’, that they do have a softer side, with lead Matt Thomson alone onstage with a piano for an emotional ballad. Of course, the finale soon blew that out of the water, after the fake-out finish, coming back on to play their most popular song, ‘Junk Food Forever’, which had the whole room buzzing. Overall, it was exactly what I had hoped and expected from The Amazons – they definitely have some big tunes, which gives me hope that they won’t be lost in the sea of indie bands, and that it’s not just 2017 that is their year – this is just the beginning for The Amazons.