February 8th Amber Run headlined the Waterfront; one of the most popular gig locations in Norwich and the tickets had sold out swiftly. Moments after the doors opened at 7:30pm the venue was already brimming with people. An atmosphere of genuine excitement and anticipation permeated the air as fans queued to see the band that hadn’t performed publicly in 14 months. Surprisingly the gig was in the more intimate studio above the larger room. However, the space was perfect for fans to get up close and personal with the band.
The night started with two brilliant warm up acts. Both at the top of their game. Meadowlark consisting of Kate McGill and Daniel Broadley, who took to the stage at 7:45pm prompt and began their set quickly winning over new fans. It was evident their passion for songwriting, especially melodic pop. A particular crowd pleasing, catchy, rendition of the Sugababes’ ‘About You Now’ garnered much applause and really set the bar high for the remainder of the night. Their new EP ‘Nocturnes’ is out March 10.
Next up, Island, London-based indie band consisting of Rollo Doherty (Vocals, Guitar), Jack Raeder (Guitar), James Wolfe (Bass Guitar) and Toby Richards (Drums). Within moments they had their audience captivated. The room’s acoustics were amazing.
And finally Amber Run, consisting of Joe Keogh, Will Jones, Tom Sperring and Henry Wyeth, was welcomed onto the stage at 9:20pm. Not knowing what to expect since I was unfamiliar with their music I was blown away by their opening track, the immediately apparent, much loved, ‘Spark’. And then followed by another crowd pleaser: ‘Pilot’, which I was informed is part of a brilliant two part music video storyline.
Followed swiftly was ‘Insomniac’, ‘Stranger’ and ‘Fickle Game’ from their new album. The crowds were singing along to every song, word perfect. One upbeat song and then a darker one gave the night a real rollercoaster emotional narrative. ‘Just my soul responding’, ‘Dark Bloom’, ‘Good Morning’, ‘Perfect’, ‘5AM’, ‘Noah’, ‘Wastelands’ and ‘Heaven’ all perfectly positioned to work the crowds effectively.
Considering the band had had such a long break from performing, their set that night appeared effortless. Open and easy-going they gave their fans a glimpse into the process of songwriting and the trials and tribulations they had worked through to produce their new album: For A Moment, I Was Lost (out now). With great vocals and thoughtful lyrics you couldn’t help being enthralled by their unique sound.
Their set told a story of overcoming hardships and their disillusionment with music and the music industry itself. A particularly good example of this being ‘Fickle Game’ and in the brutally honest, self-reflective lyrics of ‘Haze’. ‘No Answers’ perfectly encapsulated the human tendency to struggle with uncertainty. With the band explaining that it was loosely based on both the breakdown of personal and professional relationships and how it resulted in frustration and feelings of hopelessness. After a rapturous encore they returned to the stage with an ‘oldie’ but much loved song: ‘I Found’.
Amber Run’s new album is ambitious but their artistry and musicality is more than equal to the task. It’s rare to come across a band that is as authentic and humble. Showing genuine warmth toward their supporters and staying to talk to their fans at length after the show.
It’s exciting to see what this year has in store for them as it seems the sky is the limit.