Fresh off the release of their third album Philophobia, Amber Run opened their new headline tour last Friday at the Ritz, featuring support from Stereo Honey.
The night started with a somewhat small and un-energetic crowd waiting outside the venue, with much of the assembled deciding to miss the support act, and only arrive for the headliners.
This may have been justified as Stereo Honey delivered an uninspired set that received little response from the audience. Although the band did have the ability to play technically, they were let down by their frontman, who carried himself with a sense of arrogance that the crowd simply weren’t interested in, even with the little interactions he initiated.
This short set of half an hour, coupled with some minor feedback issues, left the headliners with a somewhat monumental task to ensure that they gave the fans an enjoyable evening.
After a support act whose light show was almost more interesting than they were, Amber Run took to the stage opening with ‘Neon Circus’, a track from their new album. The three-piece appeared unsteady, which was to be expected given they were playing their first UK show in over two years, yet the fans did appear interested and enjoyed the opening few tracks.
This was followed by a succession of repetitive and uninspiring songs which left much of the crowd yet to remove their coats even halfway through the headline set. Some tracks were better than others with ‘Pilot’ bringing some energy back to the set, yet it was evident that Amber Run were holding back their heavy hitters for later in the evening.
A break before the tenth song of the set saw the frontman Joshua ‘Joe’ Keogh call out to his mother and grandmother who were in attendance at the Ritz, dedicating the band’s next track ‘Amen’ to his late grandfather, who sadly passed away a year ago.
What followed was a performance by the whole band, filled with such raw emotion and feeling that it blew the whole beginning of the set out of the water and established within three and a half minutes why they’d reached this stage in their career. A performance of this calibre came from songs few and very far between, with ‘Amen’ being comparable only to Simon Niels performances of ‘Folding Stars’ with Biffy Clyro.
Not only did this track have much of the crowd in tears, it had them engrossed for the rest of the set, with the song ‘Carousel’ appearing to be being played by a different band, to a different assembly from the opening half. After playing for just over an hour, Amber Run announced their departure somewhat abruptly, leaving the crowd certain of an encore.
What they didn’t expect, however, was a three-song encore that would have fit perfectly into the set without a break. It begged the question of why Amber Run needed to leave the stage at all, if not only an attempt to re-engage the crowd. Ending with ‘Haze’, ‘I Found’ and finally the fan favourite ‘No Answers’, the band left for the second time, leaving a crowd split between complete satisfaction and disappointment.