Review by David Waterfield / Photos by Rob Stanley
I first saw Panic Room at Wolverhampton’s Little Civic in 2008 and even then they were clearly something special. Since then the band has gone from strength to strength, with two excellent albums behind them and a thoroughly deserved reputation as a great live act. Sunday night at the Robin2 marked the beginning of another chapter for Panic Room with a launch show to promote their third album, “Skin”.
Support was provided by a brief but enjoyable performance from acoustic singer-songwriter Howard Sinclair. His set consisted of two covers (Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” and Tom Petty’s “Freefalling”) along with five original compositions, of which the closer, “Wrong Girl, Wrong Time” was my personal favourite. Hopefully it won’t be too long before Howard returns to the Midlands.
“Song For Tomorrow”, the opening track from “Skin”, provided a powerful and dramatic start to Panic Room’s set. The song already has a familiar feel to it, having featured regularly in Panic Room’s live shows over the last twelve months.
Following a triple salvo from Panic Room’s excellent sophomore album “Satellite”, the first of the brand new tracks was unveiled. “Screens” already seems destined to become a live favourite, powered by Jonathan Edwards insistent keyboard riff and driven home by some funky bass from the irrepressible Yatim Halimi.
The uplifting “Reborn” from the band’s debut album was sandwiched between two more new songs. “Chameleon” demonstrated a musical power that complemented its thoughtful lyrics whilst the chilled out “Freefalling” featured some delightful acoustic guitar interplay between Anne-Marie Helder and Paul Davies.
Panic Room played with real energy and enthusiasm throughout and this was mirrored by the audience at the Robin2 who greeted the new songs with the same fervour as the older, more familiar favourites.
In Anne Marie-Helder Panic Room are blessed not only with a fine songwriter and musician but also with a unique voice; strong, fragile, clear and emotional. There were few better examples of this than the atmospheric set closer “Tightrope Walking”, which she invested with real heart and depth of feeling.
The first of two encores saw the band perform two further songs from “Skin”; the riff-driven “Hiding The World” followed by the beautiful album closer, “Nocturnal”. The second encore featured an extended version of the ever popular “Sandstorms” which provided an opportunity for each member of the band to shine.
For my money Panic Room are one of the finest bands out there at the moment. With a strong new album to promote and a record deal with Esoteric Antenna in their back pocket I only hope that they go on to reach the wider audience that their talent richly deserves.
Panic Room Set List: Song For Tomorrow; Freedom To Breathe; 5th Amendment; Yasuni; Screens; Bitches Crystal; Chameleon; Reborn; Freefalling; Skin; Apocalypstick; Promises; Tightrope Walking.
Encores: Hiding The World; Nocturnal; Sandstorms.
Check out the rest of Rob’s photos from the gig below: