Despite its usual rock ethos, it was an unashamedly eclectic treble-bill laid on for a packed assembly at Bournemouth’s basement venue The Anvil on Friday, reflected in the show being sold out well in advance of the night. Indie-pop rising stars Larkins were the main draw for a largely youthful crowd, but it is always good to see quality all the way down the bill and credit is due to promoter Bournemouth Live for one of the hottest tickets on the South Coast this autumn.
“Abandon Ship! have a genuine indie-anthem on their hands [with latest single Table For One]”
Basingstoke-based Abandon Ship! set about grabbing the first slot of the night right by the balls; their engaging presence and high-intensity emo-indie connecting beautifully with the early-doors crowd. The band’s music is honest but at the same time doesn’t struggle to connect on an emotional level. It’s not just a head-down rush either, with intricate lead guitar work lurking in the mix. In most recent single Table for One, Abandon Ship! have a genuine indie-anthem on their hands already, complete with foot-to-the-throttle guitars and the kind of attention-grabbing monster chorus that seems certain to be throwing open much bigger doors for these boys in the not-too-distant future.
“STITCH’s singer Nikita brings an extraordinary set of lungs and jaw-dropping vocal range, especially when delivering haunting contralto passages.”
West London’s STITCH bring high-sheen alt-pop to the party. Multi-instrumentalists Gray and Kye underpin the tracks with all manner of rhythms and programmed trickery, while buzzing around like restless waiters. There are trumpet solos, there are violins. In fact, there’s never any shortage of detail in the tracks, each unleashing a torrent of meticulously-executed ideas. Singer Nikita brings an extraordinary set of lungs and jaw-dropping vocal range, especially when delivering haunting contralto passages. Florence Welch comparisons are predictable, but also irresistible. The strengths of the set are also its potential pitfalls depending on your taste; the pebble-polished songs being perhaps a little too clinical for some ears. That said, STITCH’s set is one of almost peerless musicianship and production values, enthusiastically delivered by a band who are clearly enjoying themselves.
Tonight’s headliners Larkins come bearing the familiar mantle of “next big thing” although it’s a tag that they wear very comfortably indeed. The recent legacy of Manchester-based indie-pop isn’t something that appears to trouble the band one bit. Larkins just continue to set about creating great songs with big, memorable singalong passages; trojan horses for thoughtful lyrics which document emotionally-fragile post-millennial times, all too familiar to their main target audience.
It takes some confidence this early in a career to deliver a live album containing a number of tracks not even released in studio format, but that’s exactly what Larkins did earlier this year in their recorded home-town show at Manchester’s Albert Hall. It’s apparent from the live album that Larkins won’t be content just with anthemic singles; this is a band that is beginning to really explore the possibilities of its combined talents.
“Josh Noble’s voice is nothing less than exceptional as a focal point to the song; an effortless presence.”
From tonight’s set River Bed and Pieces see Larkins begin to re-set their targets. River Bed could sit neatly alongside Holy Fire-era Foals, building drama by way of a more expansive feel and composition than the casual listener will have appreciated from listening to their single releases to date. Josh Noble’s voice is nothing less than exceptional as a focal point to the song; an effortless presence. Pieces is another departure from the standard template, this time towards post-rock territory. It’s not a case of divergence just for the sheer hell of it, more a successful extension of the Larkins sound into less chartered waters.
Are We Having any Fun Yet? is the sound of Larkins again capturing the zeitgeist, an anthem of tragedy for the first generation ever to have it worse than its parents. “They say she needs two pills as a way to sort her head out,” sings Noble, bemoaning the sticking plasters that society continues to attach to problems created by a deeper need for change.
“[With the size of Larkins] anthems [they’re sure to] be making the floorboards of Academy-sized venues bounce within the next 12 months or so.”
That’s not to say that the trademark Larkins stock-in-trade “bangers” aren’t given an airing – of course they are. With the quality of Not Enough Love, Sugar Sweet and TV Dream, all released within the last few months, there was no question of the band not encouraging the “sweatbox” crowd in The Anvil to sing along. The heady rush of TV Dream is chock-full of final-days defiance in the face of pre-ordained media narrative; of a youth determined to go out with a bang even if the scary headlines around them turn out to be true. These are the anthems that will be making the floorboards of Academy-sized venues bounce within the next 12 months or so.
If you’re yet to hear Larkins, don’t fret too much just yet. You will!