We Are The Ocean + Giants + Great Cynics @ The Temple at The HMV Institute, Birmingham – 2 October 2012

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Review by Robert Moody and Photos by Carla Mundy

The Temple at the HMV Institute might be the smallest of the 3 rooms but it was very close to full on Tuesday night as a trio of London-based bands took to the stage, headlined by We Are The Ocean, who were touring in support of their newly released album Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow.

Kicking off the evening were Great Cynics, a trio of punk rockers who eased the audience into proceedings with a selection of laid back punk songs in the vein of bands like Against Me. The band has only released one album in their current guise, and last year’s Don’t Need Much provided much of the material found in the set. What the band lacked in energy and stage presence was more than made up for in raw emotion, which made the songs easy to listen to and enjoy. The sound was perhaps a little too far removed from the headline band to be truly appreciated, but they still received a warm response as they left the stage.

By contrast, Giants ploughed through a range of faster melodic punk songs which helped to warm up the crowd for the main event. Vocalist Ed Parker bounced around the small stage and as the set progressed the audience responded with more movement and occasional attempts at moshpits, scuppered as always by the ice-rink that is the floor in the Temple. Nonetheless there was plenty to enjoy, with the rest of the band backing up their vocalist in terms of both energy and precision. The newer songs from recent release These Are The Days showcased Giants to be a band who are really starting to find their feet after some sporadic touring, and they can definitely be placed amongst other promising UK Hardcore bands such as Polar, Bastions and Palm Reader.

The arrival of We Are The Ocean to the stage took the atmosphere up a notch, as they launched into a set lasting well over an hour, mixing songs both from their new release Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow as well as their older works. This was the band’s first major tour since the departure of previous vocalist Dan Brown, and any questions about the conversion of Liam Cromby to frontman were quickly answered, as he quickly launched into lively conversations with the crowd between songs and seemed to be thoroughly relishing the role. Some of the older songs have been slightly reworked in light of the different vocal options within the band, but they did not sound any worse, and fit much more comfortably in amongst the new material, giving the set a level of consistency that would otherwise be missing. In fact, the only criticism of the set is that after a dozen songs some of them started to feel a bit samey, but the sing-alongs and crowd responses continued through to the conclusion of the set, and in closing out with ‘The Waiting Room’ – their most successful track from their last album – We Are The Ocean certainly sent the fans home happy. For their changes, they are not the same band that they were a year ago, and they will alienate a few fans, but on tonight’s evidence they have definitely retained their core fanbase, and may well be playing larger venues in the near future.

Setlist: Machine, These Days I Have Nothing, Young Heart, Overtime Is A Crime, All Of This Has To End, Lucky Ones, Runaway, Chin Up Son, The Road, Now And Then, What It Feels Like, Nothing Good Has Happened Yet, Confessions, Bleed, The Waiting Room

And you can see Carla’s shots from the show here: