Following on from a successful tour across Europe, Peterborough quartet Airways are currently out on tour across the UK. Kicking off the run of shows at Southampton Joiners last week with support from Wargasm, we headed down to see whether we would be in store for a night of great live music or be Out Of Luck on this occasion.
It would be easy to focus on the fact that tonight marked Wargasm’s first-ever UK show and only their seventh show as a band. You’d be forgiven for expecting them to be still finding their feet, but they weren’t looking for excuses for any minor wobbles, they were there merely to deliver a solid live show worthy of everyone’s attention – and that it was. Opening their set with their debut single (and currently their only released track) Post Modern Rhapsody, their punk vibes filled the room as Milkie and Sam Matlock took centre stage with a sing-off showing just how well their contrasting vocal styles run alongside each other. Set to become a fan favourite is Gold Gold Gold, with rowdy verses giving the trio the chance to excel with driving drum lines from Ryan Cornall, with sharp riffs and raw vocals before Milkie and Matlock came together to show off a delicate side to their vocals. If you have a chance to catch Wargasm live you’ll be singing this chorus for days after, trust us.
At a time when it can be hard for new bands to stand out in the crowd, Wargasm are doing just that. It paid off that they were unafraid to try new styles, as their confidence and tight musicianship was clear. Throwing a curveball with a cover of N.E.R.D Lapdance to round off the night, the duo bring attitude to the stage by the bucketload and win over the crowd in the process – we’d call this a successful first UK show. Remember the name Wargasm as you’re going to be hearing a lot of them in 2020. 8/10
If you haven’t already been introduced to Airways let us do the honours. Made up of vocalist Jake Daniels, drummer Brian Moroney, guitarist Alex Ruggiero and bassist Jamie Reynolds, the band are yet to release their debut album but have amassed a fanbase across the UK and Europe.
With the world in such a dire political position right now Airways open their set with Alien, singing of their struggle to get into America which led to them cancelling a tour last minute, which seemed like the perfect starting point to the night. When Daniels sung “give the kid a chance” you couldn’t help but sense a reach out to those in the audience, asking them to do just that for the band during the course of the show.
The quartet has a well-rehearsed track formula, as shown through the likes of older material Starting To Spin and White Noise Boys. Led by catchy guitar introductions they pave the way for Daniels’ storytelling lyrics to come in to play, and by the time the chorus arrives it’s met by a full band effort with group vocals, pounding drumlines and no escape from the power of Airways. If you’ve not checked out Starting To Spin before there’s a real sense of a movie theme tune going on here, thanks to the chaotic and changing dynamic of this track with musical twists and turns around each and every corner.
Tonight is anything but predictable, but that seems to be Airways‘ vibe. Going from Trampoline into a verse of Lose Yourself by Eminem, the room is met with initial confusion which soon turns into a sea of impressed faces. As their set progresses it’s clear something is missing for Daniels, and in a futile attempt to get the crowd participation they desire to kick off the UK leg of the tour with a bang, the band follow with a cover of Robbie Williams smash-hit Angels. Sadly the Southampton crowd still show a reluctance to get involved with the sing-along, but maybe this was down to the crowd enjoying the incredibly good version being offered by the band. Could a studio version be on the horizon? We can only hope.
The joy about tonight’s set is every song bar two, Slow and Listen To Your Friends, is material the quartet have already released. Both tracks have become setlist favourites within the Airways fanbase, despite there not being studio versions of either. This is a testament to Airways as a band, from their relentless touring schedule – whether as headliners or supporting many artists across the years – they’ve built up a loyal fanbase along the way.
With Daniels explaining its time to turn things emotional, it’s time for Blue Gasoline to take centre stage as an eerie vibe fills the room. Swirling guitar lines from Ruggiero, Reynolds and Daniels are matched with Moroney’s rapidly building drumline which sees the track flip from an emotional number to one highlighting the musical skills of the quartet.
Closing the set with the power duo of Reckless Tongue and Mate it appeared the crowd had loosened up, as the singalongs finally began to kick in to play. With the first well-deserved pit of the night trying to show during Reckless Tongue, this powerful punchy number saw the crowd on their feet and the energy hitting its peak as The Joiners tried to take on backing vocals. Undeniably their most loved track, Mate closes the night on the high everyone wanted it to, as we see Airways showing the power they hold when working as a four. The technical elements behind this track, from the intricate guitar lines cleverly woven between rousing drumlines and singalong friendly vocals, make this a standout moment from the set.
They may not be a household name yet, but as long as Airways continue to put on captivating, memorable live shows and release singalong friendly tracks with story-telling lyrics who knows what the future will hold. Could part of Airways‘ future plans include their debut album release? We’ll just have to hold tight a little longer to find out. 9/10
Written by: Nicola Craig