Live Review: Vanna – O2 Academy 2, Newcastle, June 8th 2010

Turn outs for Newcastle haven’t been all that great recently, but Boston’s Vanna, across the pond for the first time, and Shadows Chasing Ghosts, always a firm North East favourite, manage to sell out the Academy 2 tonight!  Here’s how it went down…

Tonight just isn’t 3 Ways of Thinking‘s night. While, musically, they’re nothing to shout about, think a sloppy Me vs Hero with even more contrived breakdowns and some warbly over-the-top female vocals, it’s usually the band’s youthful energy that makes them somewhat tolerable, but this set is just completely flat. Those watching look as bored as the ‘popcore’ quartet on stage, it’s quite embarrassing, really.

It’s hard to categorize Brummie quartet LYU. Sounding as much metalcore as it does pop, it’s an infectious and curious all-clean vocal arrangement on top of massive riffs, and great, catchy lead guitar parts. Sadly and somewhat predictably, the audience have no idea who the band are, so it’s up to them to bring the noise and make a lasting impression. Tracks from new EP The Sky Is Ours seem to go down nicely, though there’s barely any kinetic reaction. Here In Line boasts a massive chorus ontop of some killer riffs, and the band sound together tonight. Frontman Tom Hill has an extremely powerful voice which really makes the set come together well, and judging by the amount of LYU tee’s floating about within the next hour, it’s fair to say the band have done their job and made the best impression.

This Is Divine must be on the buzz of their lives tonight after just being announced to play Download via Red Bull Bedroom Jam. The buzz sadly doesn’t really connect with the crowd this early on tonight, and movement is limited. Blasting straight into Dear Armourer is a bold choice, and people are clearly familiar, but the mood seems to die a bit from then on out. No fault of the band however, who play brilliantly. Tight as you like, the more melodic, progressive interludes weaving in and out of the punishing and cold riffage sounds fantastic, and as ever stronger than on record. Closer These Human Ruins boasts a bit of movement, but people may have just missed the boat a little tonight. Great performance, crowd surprisingly not up for it.

Shadows Chasing Ghosts come fourth and delight as ever. While one may argue their constant re-appearances and word of mouth buzz may be somewhat of an overkill, the band never fail to deliver in a live setting. Kicking off with the bad-ass opening riff of Girl In Sheeps Clothing, the quintet lay it down thick and fast, and get the room moving. Shaking up the set tonight with some new tracks thrown in amongst the old, new single Home impresses, and shows the more melodic side of the spectrum, while The Recovery is balls out heavy, and inspires many to finally get the ball rolling. Frontman Trey Tremain leaps from stage to barrier in the blink of an eye, and constantly keeps the audience on their feet, though Vanna vocalist Davey Muise‘s quick appearance during SOS may have shown Mr. Tremain up ever so slightly. There’s still Empires and Thumbelina’s Story for the old faithful which still go down a storm, but as always it’s ‘that track’ Searchlights that does the trick. It’s closing chant; “We’ve all lost our way home” inspires group spirit and ensures the band go out on a high. There’s good reason Shadows Chasing Ghosts are loved up in Newcastle, and tonight’s performance cements it more than ever.

A five-band bill, it’s been a long night, but at 10pm, it’s finally time for post-hardcore mob Vanna to grace the stage, and while it appears that a portion of punters have left, there’s still an impressive core of people solely here for the Boston quintet, as they open with the thunderous Let’s Have An Earthquake. Live, their pounding sound is even more raw and heavier, and the growling vocals of Davey Muise combined with the melodic twist of Evan Pharmakis are on top form. Clearly buzzing from the receptive crowd, it makes for an even more livelier performance, as they mention that it feels just like a show back home. While it’s A New Hope-heavy set, the more metalcore-ish, We Ate The Horse You Rode In On, from their debut full-length Curses, is belted out, before ending with favourite Safe To Say. However, that’s not good enough for the Newcastle contingent as they demand “One more song!” and that’s exactly what they get. Tonight has left a lot of people with a new favourite band.

– Faye Turnbull (Intro, 3WOT, Vanna) and George Cannings (LYU, This Is Divine, SCG).

Keep an eye out for our interview with Vanna coming soon!

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