A mere six months have passed since the last time Decade played Swindon, so I was ecstatic when they announced that they were coming back, and though last night was an eclectic mix (to say the least) it also ended up being one of the most fun shows I'd been to in a very long while.
The opening act, Heartwork, was definitely my highlight out of the three support bands. Playing acoustic music straight from the heart, Dan O'Dell poured everything he had into his half an hour set, and I was impressed by every moment. I'm a real sucker for emo acoustic music (Front Porch Step, Rob Lynch, This Wild Life) but it's not something we've ever had much experience of here in the UK, so it was brilliant to encounter such a fabulous lyricist performing on my home turf. 'I Went To Parts' is one of the most revealingly honest songs I've heard in a very long time, and I think this is going to be a song that I'm listening to for a long time to come.
None of the songs were disappointing and every single one brought something different to the show - even though Dan was fighting with sound problems for a good chunk of his stage time. And as well as being a brilliant performer, Dan is a hilarious guy, and some of the comments he was coming out with between songs were the funniest things I'd heard in a very long time ("If you're here with a loved one... It's not gonna last!") making him seem like a blend of Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties with comedic American singer Bo Burnham. If you have a couple of quid, I'd sincerely recommend you download one of the Heartwork EPs - I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Second up were All Ears Avow, a local band who've gained a pretty big hometown following since the release of their EP, 'Home'. I'd seen them before, a couple of years ago, but I couldn't really remember what they were like, so I was absolutely blown away by their set. Recently all female-fronted bands seem to make pop-punk or pop-rock music, so it was refreshing to hear an alternative rock band with frontwoman Claire Sutton's vocals making them seem more similar to Halestorm than to We Are The In Crowd - it definitely gives them something different to push them ahead in this game.
Starting off with 'Better Now', a track reminiscent of a heavier version of Don Broco's 'You Wanna Know', they grabbed the crowd's attention immediately and did not let go of it for the entirety of their set. New song 'I Can Help You To Bend' was probably the catchiest song of the evening (not only because it employed my favourite instrument, the percussive egg, but because the hook was just so well written), followed closely by 'Waiting Games' and 'Tongue Tied', showing that their new songs are definitely their best songs.
This band are definitely one who know who they are and where they want to go; the songs from their upcoming debut album 'Get In The Game' definitely demonstrated that their music is developing in a natural way that's likely to expand their fanbase dramatically following its release. I've already pre-ordered my copy, so I'd suggest you do so as well, because this band are definitely going to be one to watch - even more so if newest single 'Waiting Games' is an idea of things to come from the rest of the album.
Wings On Butterflies
I Can Help You To Bend
The heaviest band of the bill tonight were, by far, Big Nothing, a new band from Liverpool (well... new in this incarnation, they used to be known as Scouts). Seeming like a mixture between Bullet For My Valentine and Nirvana (so much like Nirvana, in fact, that they were verging on a tribute band), it all got a bit too heavy for me, and I didn't really enjoy their set. Musically, they were rather good, but most of their songs just seemed to blend in to each other, meaning that for the entire half an hour it just felt as though I was surrounded by discordant noise. Their banter was also lacking, with some of their jokes falling completely flat on the crowd, which was a shame - I hope they settle down and become more comfortable throughout the rest of the tour with Decade, because they just seemed much too nervous to make a real impact on anyone.
Decade's stage time was a bit later than anticipated, following a couple of microphone lead changes and some sound issues, meaning that they interacted with the crowd a lot more at the beginning of their set than they'd ever had a need to before, and I think it definitely made them more comfortable. Sometimes, especially when playing bigger venues, Decade seem as though they've gone a bit deer in the headlights and are incapable of talking to people, meaning that they music is brilliant but the atmosphere is a bit lacking, but that was not a problem tonight. With guitarist and backing vocalist Connor Fathers taking to the mic, he had the crowd laughing almost instantly, and you could tell that no one was too irritated with the delay taking place, because it just made the show that much more individual. Talking of the crowd, I was impressed with the turn out that this show saw - for a Monday night the venue was absolutely buzzing, and everyone got so involved with the show which was highly commendable.
When the music eventually did get started, it was a brilliantly constructed set featuring all of Decade's best songs, and two new ones. Playing the entirety of the 'Good Luck' album, as well as two older songs and the two new releases, it struck me how flawless their performance was (even with some technical issues making Alex's vocal seem a bit too quiet a points) and I was not disappointed to be seeing them again so soon after Takedown Festival. If you haven't seen Decade live yet, you're definitely missing something great, and I highly recommend you change that now.
'Daisy May' was definitely my favourite song that they performed - the first of the two new ones - which sounded like a perfect blend between Kids In Glass Houses and Lower Than Atlantis. With so many great UK pop-rock bands calling it a day in the last year (Save Your Breath, Canterbury and Me Vs Hero to name but a few) there's definitely a big gap to be filled, and I'm certain that Decade are going to step up and fill it. 'Brand New Again' also sounded great, and the two new songs stood out from the set in such a way that it displayed how much Decade have grown since their first album release - they're a more mature band now, they know more about what they're doing and they're not afraid to take some risks and shake things up a bit.
The rest of the set was a standard Decade show, and while that is not a negative thing it also didn't surpass either of the new songs. I can't wait for album two to be released, because it's going to kick down some doors and really open up some new possibilities for Decade, and they definitely deserve it. A self-confessed support band who rarely play headline shows, it's time for them to start selling out some rooms of their own, and that day can't come soon enough.
Brand New Again
I Don't Care