It seems somewhat fitting that Fatherson have arrived in Norwich on World Mental Health Day. The band have always been candid with mental health and feelings of loneliness, painting a cinematic background that has united a cult fanbase in singalongs and earnest connection. Ever huge on record, the band face the challenge of keeping their immense sound live for their first headline Norwich show in a room less than a fifth of the size of the last venue they rocked up to: a sold-out LCR.
Opening the nights proceedings, however, are Norwich locals Prey Drive. Similarly huge on record, the band are cursed with a mix thinner than Donald Trump’s skin. For all the energy and conviction the band put behind their incredible songs, they are let down by a disappointing front of house sound. They battle through and sell themselves well despite this, coming away as one of the local scene’s finest.
The same cannot, unfortunately, be said of Blue Americans, a band who are so monumentally dull and lacking in any genuine emotion that they could be described as the musical equivalent of jellyfish. Sounding like a toothless Panic at the Disco rip-off, the band trawl through a set of Death of a Bachelor Z-sides ticking every set piece they can. Standing on the PA system, check. Signing in the (incredibly uninterested) crowd, check. Flipping their guitars behind their back à la Bruce Springsteen, check. Emotion, sadly lacking. As the closing notes of their set ring out, Blue Americans have left a room puzzled by how a band with so little going for them could act so confidently.
Fatherson, thankfully, leave no such impression. As with Prey Drive, the band are hindered by a poor mix. But frontman Ross Leighton’s vocals still soar and the driving instrumentals make it through simply due to them being a band that’s willing to adapt and power on. Touching on all three of their albums, Ross steps onto stage for a solo rendition of Joanna with a heartfelt tribute to the importance of looking after mental health. It’s one of the bands deeper cuts but stands with stark beauty as a highlight of the set. Hitting the last couple of favourites and finishing on Charm School, the band walk off stage and into the bowels of Waterfront Studio with a calm confidence, sure that they left a lasting impression on the crowd. They absolutely earned that confidence.