Amplifier – Sheffield Academy 2, 25th March 2018

With a tour name like, ‘You Pick The Set – We Just Want To Tour’, it promises to be quite an interesting night, with the set chosen as per the tour name instead of the band telling the story themselves through the list. Supporting are label mates Awooga, playing a hometown gig and their full debut release in full.

So, on to Awooga and the venue is already a third full, which is a big compliment to any band playing in a support slot. After some initial confusion over the start time, as the venue provides incorrect times, I arrive as the second song is starting and get straight into it. I quickly find out that they are playing the whole of their new debut release, Conduit, in order, which I reviewed recently here. (Review–conduit-rockosmos.html). It’s clear throughout the set, which is played impeccably throughout, that the audience is thoroughly enjoying the performance. Whether it’s loud applause or the fact that phones seem to be away and the audience actually watching and paying full attention to the band. The sound is excellent and the loud/soft clash that Awooga to use its full resonates around the room with those congregated. The crowd seem familiar with a fair amount of what’s played, having obviously heard some of their early EPs and/or previously seen them live. A soft light show provides a good backdrop for the music, adding that bit extra to complete the effect, meaning the audience and myself cannot help but be drawn into the swirling Space Sludge sounds of Awooga. There are few breaks between songs, as they maximise their playing time, stopping only for tuning tweaks or pedal adjustments until they reach their final track, where Tam announces this. By the end of the track, the room has grown to 2/3 full, having steadily increased throughout their set, with the audience showing a loud and genuine appreciation for the performance. Yet another excellent show from the Sheffield space sludgers.

On to the evening’s headliners then, as Amplifier take to the stage. There is, strangely, a muted reaction at the start, although there is quickly a lot of movement in the form of nodding heads and such as the crowd are quickly back in the mood. After a decent, but not overwhelming, reaction to the first couple of tracks, the crowd liven up again, as Panzer is quickly followed by Interstellar, provoking loud applause and shouts from the crowd after each, before frontman Sel introduces the band to the throng in front of them. An audience member cheekily enquiries how Sel is feeling, which brings a smile and thank you, before launching into Open Up with the audience clapping along at the start.

There are, as per Awooga, very few breaks between songs, as they solely take the time to adjust/swap instruments before launching straight on to the next track. As they do so, there is an occasional sound bite from Sel, as he advises the crowd, ‘Don’t eat octopus, by the way. It’s like eating cat’, to a chuckle from the crowd, bringing a more familiar feeling between the band and the crowd, as would be expected for a tour where the audience themselves have selected the songs. The crowd slowly dwindles, sadly, through Amplifiers set, though this is at no point any fault of the bands, as they continue to perform at an extremely high level. The band work onwards through their set, bringing in the likes of Kosmos (Grooves of Triumph), The Wave and Motorhead, before ending the main part of their set to Airborne, to loud acclaim from those remaining. They barely have time to leave the stage before coming back on, having needed an hour 40 minutes at this point to present 12 tracks to the audience, so have time for a sole encore track in UFOs, which they dedicate to Elon Musk, which has Sel asking out if he was actually in attendance, showing again the humour of the band in addition to the quality of their songwriting and performance. With UFOs completed, they thank the crowd to a loud cheer and applause and take their exit from the stage.

A sublime set from both bands on the bill.

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