Following the success of their tour supporting the Manic Street Preachers, Merseyside pop-rock band The Coral are back with their first live headline tour in two years. Sixteen years after the release of their debut album, both the sell-out of Albert Hall on the final night of their tour and the remarkably broad age range of the crowd is a testament to the band’s continuing success and dedicated following.
Opening with fast-paced, bass-driven, track ‘Sweet Release’ from their new album Move Through the Dawn, the Liverpool five-piece were met with roars of approval from the crowd. Taking the stage with the apparent ease that experienced musicianship brings, the band’s no-fuss, music-first attitude to performance made for a strong opening to the show. Despite being on the music scene since the 90s, the band members are still in their thirties, and with lyrics yearning for simplicity such as “Secret kiss reminding me of what I miss / Some kind of forgotten bliss”, their music has not yet lost that youthful feel.
Keyboardist Nick Power in his new book Into The Void says “we should aim for something a bit more song-based now”, citing The Beach Boys and The Ramones as influences, and there is certainly something Beach Boy-esque about the band’s new sound. Paying homage to The Yardbirds with a cover of ‘Heart Full of Soul’, a self-professed favourite of lead vocalist James Skelly’s, the set featured a nostalgic fusion of sixties-style psychedelia and more traditional pop beats.
Particular highlights from the show were upbeat, melodic ‘Pass It On’, and bassy, spaced out rock track ‘Holy Revelation’, culminating in an effortlessly executed guitar solo from lead guitarist Paul Molloy. His skilled and rapid picking combined with fluid riffs showed off his impressive musical flexibility. A comparison between Molloy and The Yardbird’s Jimmy Page seems fitting.
Despite the positive crowd reaction to new tracks, the crowd were eager for that nostalgic, folky sound of The Coral’s early tracks, and the band did not disappoint. The classics ‘Jaqueline’, ‘Pass It On’, and the iconic jangle-pop melody of ‘In the Morning’ had the crowd going wild. A trancy, mesmerising encore featuring 2002 single ‘Goodbye’ that not even Skelly’s guitar strap breaking could disrupt, followed by the well-anticipated funky baseline of ‘Dreaming of You’ closed the show on a real high.
It appears that the five-year long hiatus taken in 2012 has paid off for The Coral, their new music blending poppier sounds with heavier guitar beats, a contrast to the psychedelic music of their previous album, without straying too far from the sound that is so unique to them. The addition of a percussionist to their live performance has really balanced out the more heavy, driving rock sound of guitars, and is reminiscent of their earlier jangle-pop style.
While their days as frontrunners of noughties retro-rock revival may be behind them, The Coral have proven that they can still bang out that feel-good, energetic, solid performance that fans of all ages know and love.