LIVE REVIEW: ROAM, Superlove, Wolf Culture, The Anvil, Bournemouth, 24/01/2020
As part of Independent Venue Week, one of Bournemouth’s finest venues, The Anvil became host to the likes of Eastbourne outfit ROAM, alt-rock trio Superlove and South Coast quartet Wolf Culture. With this being a sold-out show hosted in a basement venue we had a feeling this was going to be a memorable night for all those in attendance.
Wolf Culture are no strangers to the ROAM fanbase having previously performed with the headline act. Within the venue tonight there was a cluster of fans who were full of energy, passionately singing along and making up for the lack of energy around the remainder of the room. The tight musicianship of the quartet was flaunted through tracks such as Continents and recent single Spite. Led by Max Dervan’s sharp vocals, the composition of guitars, drumlines and instrumental sections was a sight to admire live during Spite. Highlighting the upbeat side to their sound was The Side Effects Of Being Happy, featuring one of those simple but effortlessly catchy choruses you can’t help but get hooked on, however, their set was at times sadly marred by slight sound issues. This might not have been the most groundbreaking set we’ve seen but every band has to start somewhere and Wolf Culture have started on the right foot. 7/10
From the moment Bristol-based trio Superlove burst onto the stage we had a feeling this was going to be a fun set and we weren’t disappointed, especially with a touch of JLS’ Everybody In Love making an appearance mid-set. The trio’s debut single Book A Holiday is perfect for the cold winter weather where you need an excuse to get away, just listen to this song and you might struggle to resist the urge to book one. Superlove specialise in catchy choruses with frantic guitars and by the second chorus we noticed ourselves singing along to “Let’s book a holiday, maybe the south of Spain“, let’s go! Throwing in a little bit of everything whilst lighting up the room was Think Abt U where Jacob Rice took centre stage with strong, emotive vocals before the track rolled into full-blown action. Striking the right balance between crowd interaction and musical focus it was clear that Superlove wanted to be playing to the Bournemouth crowd tonight. Closing with unreleased track; Untouchable with a funky, pop edge to it brought a feel-good factor to the night and closed the trio’s set on a resounding high. Superlove were a band we knew little about before tonight’s show but by the end of their set, they’d made sure they were one we’d definitely be keeping our eyes peeled for. 8/10
Suitably warmed up and the venue filled, it was time for the main event. With tonight marking the first night of the tour the anticipation in the basement was high over what was to come and as ROAM threw themselves into Better In Than Out, chaos looked set to follow both on and off stage. Hand Grenade, taken from latest release Smile Wide was an incredibly special moment to be part of as fans took to shoulders, Alex Costello was drowned out and it felt like the crowd were doing all the work as ROAM were overpowered throughout the track.
When Hopeless Case and Deadweight made an appearance in the set this was when the crowd found that secret bit of energy which had been hiding. Deadweight saw the crowd surging even further towards the front of the stage, widening the pit and perfecting the “DEADWEIGHT” chant. Dual vocals from Alex C and Alex A matched with jagged guitar lines and driving drumlines make it one of the heavier moments within the set.
With this being their first tour of the year and an intimate one too, the quintet brought some setlist surprises, much to the delight of the crowd. On a personal level, Red & Blue is one of our favourite tracks on Smile Wide and when performed live its clear other people share this sentiment. One track the band explained fans had continually asked live was Tracks, turning things down a notch and they even dedicated it to one special fan in the crowd. Changing the atmosphere around completely from moshpits to swaying and a really magical moment in the set, we can certainly see why fans have been asking for this to be performed live for so long if this is what it creates.
Throughout the night there was a real feel of humbleness shown from the band who took the time to thank the crowd throughout and make sure everyone was having as much fun as them from the carnage of a spot in the crowd. If you’re ever in Starbucks down South, keep your ears peeled because you might just happen to hear Turn on their playlist as the band found out first hand when Alex Adams noticed a familiar guitar melody earlier that day. Free Starbucks for life then?
Performing one of their longest headline sets to date, the pop-punk energy didn’t once falter. Yes, at times the crowd overpowered the band and you wished you could turn their volume up a little bit but isn’t that half the fun of small shows? If you get the chance to see ROAM this year, grab it with both hands as if you’re in the heart of the crowd knowing all the words or an onlooker you’ll find yourself singing along before the night is out. Closing on the powerful combination I Don’t Think I Live There Anymore and classic Playing Fiction we saw the band come together one last time to show why small shows and independent venues are truly special and to witness ROAM in a venue this size again was a great way to kick off 2020. 8/10
You can find out more about Independent Music Venue Week here.
Written by: Nicola Craig