Last year As It Is embarked on a new musical direction with the release of The Great Depression, and in support of this album they’re heading out on The Intimate Depression Tour across the UK and Ireland. With support from ones to watch, melodic hardcore outfit Modern Error, we took a trip to the first night of the tour at Bournemouth’s Old Fire Station.
Modern Error have been making a name for themselves on the live circuit recently, and it shows through their atmospheric set. Recently releasing their debut EP Lost In The Noise, tracks including new single Self Synthetic mesmerise the crowd. Their fiery energy awakens the crowd, with arms in the air, heads bopping along and the realisation that Modern Error are quite frankly great live. Owning every inch of the stage, the riffy guitar lines and emotive vocals made for a haunting experience in the small seaside venue. The music here was the focus, with next to no talk in between the set; we just wish they had taken the chance to tell us more about themselves, or even introduce more of their tracks. This may be our first time seeing the quartet, but we reckon we’ll be seeing a lot more of them over the year. 7/10
With the lights dimmed, the venue nicely filled and the crowd warmed up (thanks to set-changeover singalongs to classic tracks by All Time Low and Panic! At The Disco) it was time for the main event. As It Is had just returned from an extensive American tour and had revealed across social media that they’d had around a 36-hour rest period, so they could definitely be forgiven if tonight’s show wasn’t as sharp as the sets we’re used to from the Brighton based quintet. But As It is didn’t need any forgiveness as they burst on to stage, throwing themselves into The Fire, The Dark and kicking off their Intimate Depression tour in an explosive fashion.
Latest album The Great Depression kicked off a new era for the band. The theatrical theme they’ve now adopted flowed over on to their stage show, with black onstage attire mixed in with some red for good emo measure. The tour’s setlist featured tracks from each of the album’s acts: denial; anger; bargaining; and acceptance, tackling the topic of mental health and the feelings surrounding it. The Handwritten Letter weaved into 2017’s No Way Out flawlessly, getting the crowd opening up moshpits and shouting back each and every word. It has to be mentioned here that newest member Ronnie Ish consistently spotted fans in the crowd, giving them a nod of approval and getting up, close and personal with the front row for singalongs throughout the set. We’ll be honest, seeing the amount of enjoyment the quintet had onstage made it easy to enjoy every moment of the chaotic set.
Fans were promised that this intimate tour would bring surprises and the announcement of Winter’s Weather (a track very rarely played live) brought smiles to many faces, especially as it was quickly followed by the upbeat, singalong anthem Okay. As It Is have always been a band with their fans at the centre of everything they do, and the little touches like fresh setlist additions were incredibly well received and appreciated. Up next and giving the band and audience a chance to slow down, recover and take in the atmosphere is You, The Room & The Devil On Your Shoulder. A really important part of the night came when Patty Walters gave a heartfelt speech about the album and the inspiration behind it; reconstruction, the conversation of mental health and portraying it as “not beautiful but not ugly.”
We have to be honest, we did miss hearing more of As It Is’ older pop-punk style tracks as for us as it felt as if it was a very heavy The Great Depression-led setlist, which is understandable but a little variation never hurt anyone. But this is merely a personal criticism as regardless of this it provided a chance to hear tracks that we hadn’t previously heard live before in an intimate setting. It wouldn’t be an As It Is show if Cheap Shots & Setbacks and Dial Tones didn’t make an appearance. Towards the tail-end of the set there’s a double whammy of older material, getting everyone (and we mean everyone) in the room jumping. It really did appear that the happiness and willingness to get involved with the set helped the band to shake off any final bits of jet lag because honestly, you wouldn’t have known they were probably running on little sleep!
One of the most powerful, emotive and memorable tracks on the band’s new album is The Stigma: (Boys Don’t Cry) which tackles toxic masculinity and the need to break this trend. With many males in the crowd singing along passionately, Ronnie took the time to fist bump those guys in a sign of solidarity – it truly is the small things that speak so loudly. With no encore due to the late running, The Wounded World closed the set in absolute sheer carnage. Everyone had the last bits of energy to get rid of and this was the perfect track to do so. Onstage we saw the band stealing special moments with each other and realising their first UK show of the year had perfectly set the scene for the rest of 2019. Ben Langford-Biss didn’t want to end his night on the stage, as he took to the crowd and found his spot in the middle of the large moshpit forming. Madness? Yes. Impressive? Of course. Brave? Completely. Leaving the stage to rapturous applause, As It Is have shown that a step in a new musical direction might be a risk, but when you have such a loyal fan base it’s a risk worth taking. If this is a ‘jet-lagged’ performance, then we can’t imagine how sensational a non jet-lagged performance will be later this year.
Written by: Nicola Craig
Photos by: Elliot Vitzthum (Exeter Cavern, 27/02/2019)