Arriving at the Lemon Grove just before the doors opened, I was a little surprised to see a relatively large queue. Whilst Amber Run’s lively sounds have, undeniably, brought them success, they are perhaps still on the fringes of mainstream indie and are yet to enter the realm of such names as The Arctic Monkeys or The 1975. But it seems Amber Run have some particularly devoted fans, as would become more apparent as the evening went on.
As the now small crowd filed into the venue, and we claimed spaces right at the front, the room seemed strangely empty, even when fellow concert goers returned with drinks in hand. The crowd filled out a little with the start of Stereo Honey’s set, who managed to breathe a little life into an otherwise tame crowd.
Stereo Honey’s set was lively and fun, combining the lead singer’s angelic voice with energetic guitar playing. Despite the audience being slow to engage, by the end of the set, the band had at least got the front rows to progress from the occasional head bang to actual dancing. However, as they were asked whether they were excited for the headline act, the resounding roar emphasised that this was a crowd that knew what it wanted, or rather who.
As the twinkling notes of the introduction to Amber Run’s new album Philophobia played them in, the room was looking a lot fuller. With lead singer Joe Keogh’s entrance, the crowd suddenly seem to fully wake up, cheering louder than ever. However, throughout the gig the venue still felt intimate due to its small size, aided by Joe’s friendly engagement with the audience, making it feel as though this was a performance for friends only.
As would only be proper, Amber Run followed their dramatic entrance with an energetic start which saw the band dancing around the stage. After a mix of upbeat songs both from the new album and from their previous releases, the mood was brought down by a rendition of the slow and gentle ‘Dark Bloom’ amongst atmospheric purple lighting. This was followed by a thank-you to the crowd mid-set for their support and words of appreciation for the support act, whose lead singer was then brought back onto the stage to harmonise with Joe for a particularly beautiful rendition of ‘Affection’. The resulting ‘sad boi’ section of the set (Joe’s words) featured undoubtedly the most memorable moment of the night, with the band performing the song Joe admits he is most proud of creating, despite it hurting the most to play. In a moment of raw honesty, he goes on to explain how he created the song from the words he wished he’d spoken at his grandfather’s funeral. The crowd then fell completely silent as Joe performed ‘Amen’ solo, the crowd watching in awed fixation.
Image Source: Sonic PR
With one final sad song, we were brought back to the upbeat tracks, moving from a few more new numbers right back to the ‘oldies’ of their first album which really got the crowd singing. With a mention of the end of the gig, there was a roar of disbelief which emphasised the audience’s desire for an encore. Indeed, Amber Run did not disappoint as they returned with some of their perhaps most classic anthems. ‘I found’ was undeniably proven as the favourite, as Joe asked the audience to put away their phones and sing it with the band, resulting in a powerful feeling of unity as it seemed every last person belted out all the words.
Overall, Amber Run proved what they have said in interviews, they are a band that has a strong focus on live music. They know what people want to hear and work with this, engaging with them and enjoying the show as much as any of the crowd. As a band, they really commit themselves to their touring, as seen in their intense schedule, making them, undoubtedly, worth a watch.
Featured Image Source: Sonic PR