Circa Waves live review by Rob Johnson

I’ve reached that age now where acts like Circa Waves seem like a ‘new’ band despite the fact they’ve been going for over a decade and have just released their fifth album Never Going Under. The last time I saw the Liverpool band at the Sheffield Academy they were fourth-billed behind Royal Blood, Temples and Interpol on the 2003 NME tour and they were playing to about 50 people. Needless to say, things have changed dramatically…

Following a sterling support set from Manchester three-piece Cassia, Guitarist and lead singer Kieran Shudall, lead guitarist Joe Falconer, bassist Sam Rourke and drummer Colin Jones take the stage to a huge cheer from the energetic crowd. The title track from the new record gets things underway before ‘Movies’ sees the audience go wild. It is heartening from our spot on the balcony to see such a relatively young crowd going crazy for a guitar band. A circle pit breaks out. One lad throws a shoe. Bedlam. 

While I have enjoyed all of Circa Waves’ albums it is their debut record Young Chasers that holds the most special place in my heart, and it seems that sentiment is shared by much of the crowd if the reaction to ‘Get Away’ and ‘Stuck in My Teeth’ is anything to go by – the latter being particularly well-received and sounding excellent. Indeed, the sound is top-notch all night with Shudall in fine voice and Falconer’s guitar ringing throughout the venue with aplomb. 

The band’s last couple of albums have seen the guitars turned down in the mix in favour of a more synth-led Blossoms-esque sound. The consequence of seeing these songs played live is that they are crunchier, heavier and therefore better suited to a live setting. This is never more apparent than on a terrific run-through of Do You Wanna Talk before Be Your Drug and Sorry I’m Yours has the whole crowd singing along. 

The first part of the set closes out with ‘Fire That Burns’, undoubtedly one of the band’s finest songs and one of only two representatives from second album Different Creatures (the other being ‘Wake Up’). The crowd immediately scream for more in the only way Sheffield knows how. By repeatedly chanting ‘Yorkshire!’ over and over again.

By the time the band return to the stage for ‘Carry You Home’ and a rapturously received ‘Jacqueline’ the crowd are ready to go off and they have that opportunity during an extended and exemplary version of the band’s trademark early single ‘T-Shirt Weather’. I have seen this song played in tiny rooms and on huge festival stages and it always gets the same reaction. Sheffield Academy goes apeshit. The lights come on. You can almost smell the sweat from the balcony. What a night.

You can find a full list of dates and tickets here.

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