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LIVE REVIEW: The Xcerts, Paris Youth Foundation, The Garage, London, 09/04/2019

The Xcerts are currently rounding off their most successful album cycle to date with Hold On To Your Heart. In the last 16 months it’s seen the Scottish trio get a top 40 album, tour across Europe, release their Wildheart Dreaming EP which features tracks that didn’t make the album and take their sound to arenas with Busted. We ventured down to the London show of their tour at The Garage to have one last dance, before they head back into the studio to record their follow-up album.

Liverpool quintet Paris Youth Foundation brought a little bit of everything with their set, from revved up riffs to sombre vocals. With their indie-pop sound, this tour coincided with the release of their latest EP The Nights Are For Thinking About You, which was showcased throughout their set. Vocalist Kevin Potter maintained an incredible chilled onstage vibe, however, this at times led to a lack of stage presence from the band. If tracks like I Can’t Keep Up With Your Love are indicative of Paris Youth Foundation’s sound, we just wish it wasn’t over so soon. 6/10

Bounding on to the stage, The Xcerts opened their set with singalong friendly Daydream. Seeming completely at ease in the packed out venue, thanks to their recent arena stint, the trio didn’t need any time to get into their stride. One of the many set highlights took place early on in the night with Drive Me Wild; a funky number with memorable instrumental sections. Getting the crowd dancing along was vocalist Murray Macleod, domineering the crowd and lapping up every ounce of attention the adoring room was giving to the trio.

Having gone from recently playing arena’s with Busted to more modest venues on this headline tour, The Xcerts pulled out all the stops to make this Tuesday night a special one. Show Me Beautiful saw a stage shake-up as Jordan Smith swapped his guitar for a keyboard, Macleod dropped his guitar to be free to dance and sing fully and they enlisted their tech, Alex Leeder, to take over guitar duties. All whilst Tom Heron remained fixed to his drum kit, providing the backbone for the track; now that’s what we call a group effort! One thing which makes The Xcerts such an incredibly important band is their lyrical ability, mastering both upbeat, feel-good tracks and then ones such as The Dark, which make you feel like it’s only you in a room, creating a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere at The Garage.

Showcasing material primarily from Hold On To Your Heart and recent EP Wildheart Dreaming it was an all killer, no filler setlist. Prior to older track Slackerpop, the crowd were taken on a trip down memory lane, being told the story of how the band played The Garage on the Rocksound Exposure Tour with Anberlin. But tonight it was The Xcerts doing it all by themselves and taking the well-deserved glory for packing out the venue. Old but gold track Slackerpop saw the crowd uniting to chant back “I’ll be your man, I’ll be your mannequin,” creating a special atmosphere that you couldn’t help but love being a part of.

Newer, emotional track You Mean Everything provided a moment of calm and reflection from the rowdiness within the set, as friends and lovers held on to those special to them. The effortless beauty of this part of the set was echoed by the delight shining on the trio’s faces, as the crowd were singing along as if it was a battle to be louder than Macleod. New track Real Love had its live debut on this run of shows and saw emotions running high both on and off stage. As the set drew to a close Hold On To Your Heart and Aberdeen 1987 provided a perfect contrast between each other, which ended up being one of the most memorable and special parts of this show. Aberdeen 1987 tricked fans in to thinking this was the end of the night as Macleod took to the stage solo with just his guitar and a sea of voices supporting him. Now, celebrating its ten year anniversary, the band delighted fans in letting them know an In The Cold Wind We Smile tour will be taking place later this year.

Heading into the final section of the night There Is Only You was a stripped back affair, with everyone mesmerised by what was occurring onstage as Macloed’s faultless vocal abilities were highlighted. Ending the night with anthemic Feels Like Falling In Love, the whole crowd were involved and the trio were giving every last bit of their energy, showing The Xcerts at their absolute best. As the night drew to a close, Macleod made sure the last words of the night were ones which would stick with everyone; “Romantic rock and roll for fucking ever.” Walking off stage with huge smiles across their faces everyone knew they’d just witnessed something special. The Xcerts had gone above and beyond expectations that anyone had of them that night. 8/10

The Hold On To Your Heart era has taken The Xcerts to new heights, and it’s just onwards and upwards from here on. With just four chances left to see the band before they hide away in the studio for the foreseeable future, catch The Xcerts at SWG3 in Glasgow on 3rd June, Beat Generator in Dundee on 4th June, Concorde 2 in Brighton on 8th June and at The Loft in Southampton on 9th June, head to the band’s website HERE for further details.

Written by: Nicola Craig

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar