Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Photography by Lee Allen

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Glaswegian hardcore stalwarts, Departures, have opened this tour till tonight’s show. With 2 days left of the tour their lead singer, James McKean was sadly rushed to hospital. As our thoughts go out to Departures and their families it meant a scrabble to fill the opener slot for the rest of the tour.

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Stepping up to fill those shoes was Touché Amoré drummer Elliot Babin. Since 2010 his bedroom-recording project has put songs out into the world under the banner Dad Punchers and more recently as Warm Thoughts, moving from a solo project to an Eliot and friends show.

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Playing a college rock mix of earnest, charming songs filled with an honesty akin to the likes of Rocking Horse Winner. Having not sang in 6 weeks or played guitar in 2 months, the set soon found its groove. One man and an electric guitar sadly wasn’t enough for possibly the rudest crowd I’ve stood amongst. As Elliot attempted to share his thoughts on Departures as a band to see live and their current situation, his words were lost amongst a sea of bravado conversing midlanders.

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His fuck it, impassioned, delivery of songs about rediscovering old bikes and doomed love was a nostalgic highlight of the show.

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Angel Du$t are self-described as Bad Brains meets the Lemonheads. On record this is certainly true, live it’s a different story. The ropey sound left the harmonies lost in the beats of their hard hitting drummer, leaving the melodic quality at the door and increasing the aggression in the lead vocals.

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The pit opened instantly with a solo kungfu kid and happy bopping. Filling the room with a 70’s DC hardcore sound, they blasted through a tight setlist reminiscent of their jam packed, short and punchy albums. Heavy riffs paved the way for sing along choruses, creating an accessible hardcore sound thanks to its poppy undertones. For their final song ‘Set Me Up’ off ‘A.D’ they’re joined on stage by Touché singer, Jeremy Bolm for those infectious chants.

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Touché Amoré are in the business of misery. The band’s journey mirrors the life and times of lead singer, Jeremy Bolm, through his hyper confessional lyricism that sees their latest release ‘Stage Four’ echoing the grief of an age-old tale that’s constantly raw. ‘Stage Four’ is universally hailed as their best record, with a European tour pressing selling out before they embarked upon the UK leg; a quick, foiled outer sleeve pressing ltd to 175, was rushed through to be hand numbered by Jeremy. With 19 copies available each night the early birds caught the worm.

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Touring this album they’ve opened each night with ‘Flowers of You’ and Jeremy was instantly in the pit, longing for it have been a no barrier show like all the others to date.

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A third of the set was given over equally to previous albums ‘Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me’ and ‘Survived by’ closing the set with ‘Just Exist’ from the latter record.

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They are intense and unforgiving. The room was engulfed by their anthemic post hardcore arrangements. For some this set will have been the standard release of any good screaming, finger pointing hardcore show, for others the intensity of having that raw, grief stricken, emotion invading your space was too much to bear. Some experiences hit close to home. Musically Touché tick all my boxes but there is an unrelenting aggression to the vocals that I find inscrutable and inaccessible to me. I’m hoping one day the key to their club will turn for me, but till then I applaud the vulnerability and honesty of this band. Music is therapy and they certainly open and address wounds each time they perform.

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