The endearing nature of Bedford rock band Don Broco is abundantly clear just minutes into their sold-out show at the Lemon Grove. Fans crashed into the soundboard at the back of the room, presumably knocking out some wires and halting the show entirely. You could argue it was the band’s fault; choosing to open a show filled with raucous, excitable Don Broco fans with ‘Pretty’, all sleazy guitar riffs and menacing synths, was a recipe for crowd-induced disaster. Many bands would’ve quickly moped off stage, angry that their slickly-planned set had been interrupted. But not Don Broco; frontman Rob Damiani stepped into the light and began a chat with the crowd as friendly and personable as if you’d have met him in the pub before the show.
Up to this point, the entire gig had been one of discovery. Support act Yungblud seems to have crafted a blend of OPM-esque ska and early Arctic Monkeys stylings and delivered catchy songs from his YUNGBLUD E.P with a swagger that could fill bigger stages in due time. Similarly, Scottish band The LaFontaines got the crowd moving with a gravelly, groovy and impressively-tight set (any headline band could do with the Scots playing their 2015 hit “King” to whip the crowd up).
Fans crashed into the soundboard at the back of the room knocking out some wires and halting the show entirely
With the crowd duly warmed up, and technical difficulties now solved, Don Broco unleashed a barrage of hits from their three full-length albums and beyond. The bulk of the songs came from February’s Technology, an album we loved for its mix of punchier riffs from their older works and the electronic stylings of 2015’s Automatic. Perhaps the album’s greatest strength became apparent after the first few tracks: these songs were born to be played live. Newer hits like “The Blues”, with its pulsing bass and steady build up, were met with roars of appreciation from the crowd as they sung Damiani’s words back to him. There was a clear consideration for production quality and the whole live experience; when a band can make the Lemon Grove look and sound like the authentic live music venue it painstakingly is not, credit is due.
Much like the crowd, the band’s energy did not let up as the show powered on. There were also more considered moments: “Automatic” and “Nerve” struck a more anthemic rather than aggressive tone, which showcased Damiani’s hugely impressive, but often-overlooked, vocal abilities. The rest of the band’s talents were equally prominent; guitarist Si Delaney and bassist Tom Doyle delivered snarling guitar patterns with a precision that warped the crowd this way and that, threatening the sound desk once more. And, after being received warmly on “Automatic”, drummer Matt Donnelly’s vocal talents were given deserved footing, particularly on recent single “Come Out to LA” and on my personal highlight of the set, “Greatness”.
these songs were born to be played live
Don Broco started off their lengthy touring schedule in support of Technology at London’s 10,000-capacity Alexandra Palace. Those who may have thought their music would struggle to fill such a large space need only to listen to the two songs they closed their Exeter show with, “Nerve” and “T-Shirt Song”. The choruses are colossal and, having seen both shows, the songs seem equally appropriate for 10,000 fans in London or 800 in Exeter. This is perhaps Don Broco’s greatest strength as songwriters, live performers, and people in general. They seem equally committed and happy to play enormous stadiums or small clubs, with the appropriate arsenal of songs to tailor a setlist for each. This relentless nature has translated into deserved success and sets them apart from their peers. Whipping up 800 Devonians into a frenzy 15 seconds into their set, and for the subsequent 90 minutes, seems as good a proof as any.