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25th November 2015

Live: Palma Violets

The Lambeth-based band continue to delight their coterie of committed followers with a high-octane night of bangers

17th November 2015

Sound Control


Palma Violets continue to be one of the best indie rock bands active in the UK, and certainly one of the best to go and see live. The intimacy of the venue and the instantaneous and prolonged energy of both the band and crowd ensured that it was a very small minority of gig goers who did not come out of there drenched in sweat.

Head banging and mosh pits are guaranteed at their gigs, in no small part due to the stage presence, charisma, and energy of their leading men: singer/guitarist Sam Fryers, and bassist Chilli Jesson. There is a symbiotic relationship with their adoring fans, with the band feeding off the punters’ enthusiasm, and the crowd lapping up the pseudo-Clash/Libertines vibes.

The group’s debut album, 180, is one of my all-time favourite albums, and certainly one of the best debut records of this century. It’s one of very few albums I can assuredly say is full of “wall-to-wall bangers”. However, their follow-up album, Danger in the Club, did not reach the artistic (or chart) heights of their first. Whether consciously or not, the band may well recognise this, as the setlist was equally balanced between songs from 180 and Danger. If this gig were a fruitcake, Paul Hollywood would be waxing lyrical on the evenness of the fruit distribution.

My main gripe with the night was not with anything the band did; rather, it was the fact that, in the year 2015, Sound Control has no card payment facility at the bar (though the signs around the bar promise that this will be rectified at an unspecified future date).

Despite the incredible fun had at the gig, as a band, Palma Violets appear to be at something of a crossroads. They have a dedicated and incredibly enthusiastic young fan base (the vast majority appeared to be aged between 16 and 24), but it is striking that, three years after the NME had named their first single, ‘Best of Friends’, as their song of the year, they’re still playing their gigs at venue like Sound Control. Don’t get me wrong, I love that their gigs take place in smaller venues—there’s a far greater connection between performers and fans that way—but it is increasingly difficult to envisage the band reaching the astronomical heights that I’ve wanted them to achieve for years. Hopefully their upcoming support of The Vaccines on tour will change that inkling of mine.

However, if this is their ‘level’ as a group, and they continue churning out high-powered, high energy records for indie lovers to lap up and mosh to, then their fans will not care one iota. The devotion of their fans was illustrated when, once the band finally left the stage, the crowd broke into a spontaneous rendition of ‘Best of Friends’.

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