Review by Paul Davis
Following on from their acclaimed Hare & Hounds gig in May, We Are Augustines returned to Birmingham to play their final UK date in support of their debut album Rise Ye Sunken Ships.
They were supported by Kodaline, a young Irish band dealing in epic indie anthems with soaring vocals. Fans of Snow Patrol, Coldplay and Elbow should check out their debut, The Kodaline EP.
Their opening song ‘Lose Your Mind’ would not sound out of place on a latter day U2 album. Also performed from the EP are Pray and Perfect World. Non EP tracks performed tonight were ‘Love Like This’ and ‘All Comes Down To You’, one would assume these will appear on the forthcoming album. It’s perhaps not a great sign that the view of the stage improved as their set went on, the crowd in front of the stage thinning out somewhat. For the closing song of their set ‘All I Want’ the band are joined by Eric Sanderson and Rob Allen from We Are Augustines on backing vocals, to the obvious delight of the audience.
The instrumental at the end of Rise Ye Sunken Ships provides the intro tape to tonight’s performance before We Are Augustines take to the stage for opener ‘Philadelphia (City Of Brotherly Love)’. When Billy McCarthy states that this is the last night of the UK tour, there is a shout of ‘we’ll miss you Billy’ to which he replies ‘missing you already!’ And you know what, I think he means it.
Apparently, when the band first arrived in ‘Blighty’ fifteen months ago they were scared shitless, but they “are feeling much better now.” ‘Juarez’ is a big fan favourite before ‘Augustine’ is introduced by Sanderson as the song that gave them their name. ‘East Los Angeles’ slows down the tempo mid set, the emotion in the frontman’s vocal delivery is incredible, reflecting the hugely personal lyrics that feature on the album. The main set ends with ‘Headlong Into The Abyss’ and ‘Book Of James’
Returning for the encore, in a slightly unusual moment, the band perform ‘Philadelphia (City Of Brotherly Love)’ for a second time. They are apologetic about performing the same song twice, but there’s no need as this stripped down version with just Billy accompanied by Eric on keyboards is a wonderful take on the song. ‘Chapel Song’ closes the evening, ‘the last song, of the last tour, of the best year of my life’ says Billy.
Whether it’s the more anthemic songs like ‘Philadelphia’ or the laid back moments like ‘Barrel Of Leaves’, they are all delivered with such heart and soul, reflecting what the band have been through to get to this point, on both a personal and musical level. Their lyrics cover such dark subject matter, but their show tonight was such a positive and uplifting experience. And when Billy speaks, it’s heartfelt and genuine. I’ll leave the last words to the guy who spoke to me in between the main set and the encore, “How can anyone not be moved by this shit?”