LIVE REVIEW: Fort Hope, Monarks, Away Days, Barfly, London, 05/05/2015
Every once in a while, the British scene gets graced with a truly great band, Fort Hope are one of these. Following on from the release of their Manne of Lawe EP they’ve embarked on a hefty 22 date tour, including a sold-out date at London’s Barfly. As we and many others rushed into the room, we couldn’t help but feel that tonight was going to be something pretty great.
Opening up tonight and also playing their first ever show was alt-rock/pop-punk outfit Away Days. With their debut EP released the following day it was never going to be a set full of crowd singalongs but the trio didn’t allow that to bother them. Frontman Jono Yates is visibly nervous, bringing his unique brand of humour (and rubbish jokes) to the set but surprisingly it goes down a treat. Debut track Messiah steals the show with an upbeat, bop-along melodies gaining the seal of approval from the audience. It’s clear these three friends are truly loving every moment of their time together onstage, with time and the development of a solid fanbase we can see their future being very bright.
Second support Monarks complimented tonight’s headliners sound a little more than first support but sadly there was a spark missing from their set. Their alt-rock sound was undeniably slick with it being clear they’ve been around the gig circuit, but it was lacking the edge needed to set them apart from the bands doing what they do… but better. Because of this, it led to the crowd, rather than being excited about the headline act, become disinterested with more filtering towards the venues bars instead of watching the bands set. Monarks are a band who can undeniably perform live, they just need to find a unique edge to captivate ours and other gig goers attention when on stage.
Next up came the reason a significant amount of the crowd were here for; Fort Hope. As the trio appeared onstage to rapturous cheers, the audience knew tonight was going to be a very special one. Opening with new single That’s The Way The River Flows, taken from not long ago released EP Manne of Lawe the crowd ignited for the first time tonight singing back word for word. Fort Hope have developed a firm fanbase throughout their time as a band and they’re out in force ready to sing, dance and have a good time at the sold out (and sweaty) show.
Tonight the trio are on top form and showing that three really is the magic number. Onstage the confidence when performing older material such as Plans is clear, as bassist Simon Rowlands bounds across the stage spinning and clearly loving every moment of it. As a team, the individual talents and passions are clear with drummer Jamie Nicholls being a machine striking the drums and making sure that despite being behind the kit everyone took note of him. Multi-tasker and frontman Jon Gaskin tonight flaunted his vocal, guitar and keyboard skills, however, his vocals were the ones which gained the largest recognition. Gaskin is blessed with a versatile vocal range shown with tracks such as Ode To You (Troubles) throughout the powerful, awe-inspiring vocals shined cementing them as some of our favourite on the British scene.
Surprise additions to the set in the form of unreleased tracks Kaiser and Give Me That pave the way for what can be expected from the trio in the future; singalong choruses, striking guitar lines and bold driving drums. Basically, reasons to be excited for what the future is to bring for these guys. However the show was stolen by track Control, one which has become a firm fan favourite and it’s clear why. Undeniably the most infectious chorus leads to the largest singalong of the night with Gaskin acting as the ringleader of the crowd singing back each and every word when requested. Not only was crowd unity shown throughout but also friendships between the trio, it’s clear they love every moment of being on stage together which results in a solid, enjoy and just really good fun performance which we won’t be forgetting for a long time.
Fort Hope are a band impossible to see live and not leave in a great mood after. Within the packed Barfly room tonight, something really magical and memorable occurred. With a slot at Download Festival on the horizon, the adventure really is just beginning for this trio and we cannot wait to watch their progress!
Written By: Nicola Craig