We Are The Ocean have a diehard group of fans that have remained loyal to the band throughout their eight plus years of performing, even after their most recent album, ARK took on a decidedly different sound to the previous three. Headlining their own UK tour is a testament to Liam, Alfie, Jack, and Tom’s work ethic and goes to show that they still have a relevant sound even after almost a decade of writing, touring, and performing. Taking to the stage at The WaterFront after being supported by Tall Ships and Allusondrugs the band had an audience already warmed up and raring to go, although it’s obvious from the cheers and excitement bubbling in the crowd that the success of their performance didn’t rely on this.
From the start of their set it’s immediately evident that the boys have a dedicated group of fans in the audience, and are capable of getting them (and the newcomers to their fan club, of which I am one) head banging and singing along within moments of taking the stage. The vivacity of their music, with its rock backbone and soulfully hoarse undercurrents, roots much of the audience to the spot in a kind of energetic aural overdose. Opening the gig with fan favourites including ‘Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow’ and ‘Young Heart’, We Are The Ocean wasted no time in whipping the crowd up into a rock-induced sweaty frenzy to the backdrop of the powerful, growling guitar twangs and full bass with Liam’s voice alternating between raspy and mournful falsetto.
The sign of a good concert is the continued participation of the crowd (among other things), something which is assured throughout the seventeen strong set by the building rockiness, combined with punchy lyrics and the band’s calls for crowd involvement during the choruses. With the band’s more recent focus on choruses and hooks, Liam’s impressively broad vocal capabilities compliment the electric, kinetic flow of string and percussion provided by Alfie, Jack, and Tom. The band’s experience of being on the festival circuit has undoubtedly positively affected their ability to cast their music into the corners of the room, reserved for those who previously only passively experienced a performance, drawing the crowd into a kind of universal appreciation for energetic rock anthems.
Making space for a cover of London Grammar’s ‘Hey Now’ (which they previously performed on BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge) the band’s set list included a pleasing mix of songs from older albums, and also their recent album ARK, whilst also illustrating their ability to breathe their own style into non-originals.
Towards the tail end of the performance all of the band, except Liam, left the stage to make way for a soulful, and undoubtedly personal, delivery of ‘Chin Up, Son’ which reduces the crowd to a captivated half whisper. Liam’s voice takes on a more soulful and brooding timbre with the accompanying guitar solo echoing around the venue along with the heartbreakingly emotive lyrics such as “so tell me why do I worry myself? I’m out of the storm, my heart is worn, I made it through hell”. The personal significance of the song was abundantly clear and the vulnerability portrayed in the lyrics combined with the slower pace of the track brought the previously fever-pitch intensity of the gig to a poignant lull, which was then reversed by the rest of the band’s return to the stage to play ‘Good For You’, one of the key tracks on their latest album.
The guys finished the concert by thanking their fans for their loyalty and attributing their success to the continued support that they receive from those who listen to their music.
All in all, We Are The Ocean delivered on their promise for a re-energized return to the rock scene, by giving a punchy, memorable, performance that had the crowd letting loose and demanding an encore.