Live Reviews

Brand New – Live

Wembley Arena

Following a few travel and queuing traumas, I have to do a little almost-run to get into the arena in time for the majority of Glassjaw’s set. As is to be expected, the sound was massive and the band were clearly intent on being as loud as possible with their basslines booming out, guitar riffs jarring and Daryl Palumbo’s caterwauling being particularly frenetic. It was an odd mix of impassioned musical statement and complete nonchalance toward the crowd that bordered on rudeness.

Outside of the songs, I think the only two sentences uttered (somewhat reluctantly, it seemed) were “Hi, we’re Glassjaw” and “Brand New is up next.” Having said that, the band created a glorious racket that reminded the fans what they miss when Glassjaw aren’t around. Palumbo’s wide-eyed, eccentric on-stage antics may make him seem like a bit of a dick. But isn’t that what being a rock star is all about? The thoroughly enjoyable performance was also noteworthy for the amount of people who were audibly singing along. I mean, yeah they’re popular but who knew their cult status extended to Wembley-arena-sized singalongs?!

Brand New are similarly unpredictable in the live stakes. A stunning performance at Hammersmith Apollo almost 2 years ago. Lacklustre Reading and Leeds performances. How would they fare at Wembley? Would it be all new songs or would they deign to play selections from back in the day? Well, the setlist proved to be quite spectacular and well-advised with plenty of crowd favourites but a hefty amount of tracks from their (arguably best) album ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’. Opening with the largely instrumental ‘Welcome To Bangkok’ which has previously been used to close their sets, it provided the perfect intro and an intense build-up to get the crowd enthralled. And enthralled they were.

This opener proved the band’s ability to command the Wembley arena crowd and it only got better from there. Tracks from new album ‘Daisy’, such as ‘Gasoline’, ‘At The Bottom’ and ‘Sink’ sounded particularly visceral but Brand New’s approach was characteristically full-on throughout the 90 minute set. Old-fashioned film was projected onto their plain white backdrop, some of which featured the fox from Daisy’s cover and some of which was actually rather sdisturbing and illustrated the new tracks rather well. ‘Devil And God’ tracks sounded insanely huge in this environment. Razor-edged guitars and yearning vocals made ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)’ close to perfection.

Older tracks went down a storm with mass singalongs only slightly thwarted by Jesse Lacey’s tendency to go off the rails melody-wise. ‘Jude Law…’, ‘Seventy Times Seven’ and ‘Sic Transit Gloria’ in particular were reeled off to a rapt audience who were positively beaming with delight. ‘Play Crack The Sky’ rounded off the evening’s proceedings (no encore necessary) and its acoustic simplicity was a very touching finish to what was surely the first great gig of the year and will probably go down in many people’s Top 5 of 2010.

Not the most chatty of bands, though very gracious of the audience’s reception tonight, at times it seemed like someone had put a gun to Brand New’s heads to make them play ‘The Hits’, so distorted were Jesse Lacey’s vocals at points during the likes of ‘Jude Law…’. But perhaps they just knew that’s what would be appropriate in such a setting. And they were rewarded with a rapturous response, quite deservedly so.