This review is presented in reverse. Typically a review spend a few lines on the support act and then focuses for most on the time on the headliners, but I’m doing the opposite. That isn’t because I’m not interested in Drive-By Truckers or that they didn’t play a great set, far from it, but Eyelids OR are the band who got me out to the gig on this occasion.
Drive-By Truckers are a band that I’ve been conscious of for a long time, but never really listened to before preparing for this gig, so it is a bit of a surprise to me just how popular they are. The Concorde 2 is a sell-out and this is the night after a packed show at the cavernous Roundhouse, the crowd love them. As a newbie I’m more enamoured with them when they crank up the volume and really hit the guitars, but this is a confident band at the top of their game.
Eyelids (I’m dropping the OR for the rest of this review) in comparison, despite having members who have been playing for decades, are the relative new kids on the block. They are a big Neon Filler favourite but have never played outside the US prior to this tour, most of the crowd don’t know the band. They also have a tricky set tonight with their 30 minutes on stage starting at 7.15, just 15 minutes after the venues doors open.
Co-front-man Chris Slusarenko is chatty from the get-go and wastes no time introducing the band and launching into a brand new song ‘My Caved In Mind’, from their forthcoming album OR. They sound great, the melodies are sweet, the energy high and the riffs burst from the venue speakers. It is a timeless sound, one that evokes 90s US indie rock as much as classic indie UK bands like The House of Love and Teenage Fanclub. It’s a pretty perfect start.
The band loosely alternate between lead vocals with part-time Decemberist’s drummer John Moen being the more reserved of the two. He looks slightly odd with a moustache replacing his former beard but his songs are just as catchy and classic sounding. ‘Bound To Let You Down’ is one of the many songs they play that would have been a radio hit in a more enlightened time.
Three guitars can often be a mess live, but a skillful balance between restraint and the desire to rock out means that they sound great and melodies don’t suffer. On forthcoming single ‘Camelot’ they are joined by Drive-By Trucker Jay Gonzalez who adds some lovely keyboards to the mix.
The band makes the most of their 30 minutes and I count three new tracks and about half a dozen songs from their catalogue in their set. They even manage to slip an extended psyche-rock breakdown into ‘Say It’s Alright’, a song that highlights what a great band they are and how solid the rhythm section is.
So, short but sweet and a great sign of things to come. The new songs sound great and if there is any justice the new album will drop to rave reviews. I’m keeping my eyes open for news of a headlining tour, and a full length set, some time soon.
By Dorian Rogers