Live Review: We Are Scientists - Bush Hall, London 09/05/2017
We caught We Are Scientists live at the iconic Bush Hall, in Shepherd’s Bush, London. The band were performing as part of the #AnswerTheCall campaign seeing Bushmills Irish Whiskey partner with Bush Hall in a bid to help fund an ongoing refurbishment programme to maintain the venue, as well as equipment for its future live shows.
Shepherds Bush is a regular stop for regular London gig-goers, nary a night to be seen where a range of live music events isn’t available. On this occasion, we visited Bush Hall, a venue unique in its luxurious nature, featuring: two well-stocked bars with cocktails named after artists playing on the night; a balcony smoking/seating area and a second-floor viewing area which can be entered and left at no extra charge. The cake on which this cherry was placed was a powerful three act rock night.
The first act of the night was Husky Loops, “like the dog breed and the cereals” as they themselves stated part way through the night. The art rockers have a sound which is best described as ‘flexible’ - filled with groove and swagger which is provided by riffs that comfortably sway and flex under their own immense weight like a well-made bridge. Husky Loops as a live unit were lead by their drummer, turning the rhythm section (which was already central in the EP) into a driving force behind the group as he thrashed through the set in perfect unison with the bassist whilst the vocals and guitar provided the jaunty riffs and catchy vocals. The songwriting of the group is impressive, with noticeably unique arrangement and bold riffs that give each of the three members a well-deserved share of the spotlight.
There are many artists with whom it isn’t difficult to imagine backstage drama akin to The Commitments, this is definitely not the case with Fazerdaze. The New Zealand-based four-piece were a united force on stage, showing their familiarity with both each other and their music as they almost seemed to forget the audience in front of them: smiles, grins and laughs showing the in-jokes within the music itself that has clearly become so familiar to the group. It was easy to imagine a Volkswagen van rolling slowly down winding roads among towering trees - the down picked guitar, fuzzy bass and simple but solid drum unit which sat steadily with the melodic pairing of ethereal lead vocals and catchy guitar riffing reminiscent of a culmination of all of the great road trip artists.
A highlight of Fazerdaze’s set was 'Jennifer', a track which featured both on the band’s recent album and the previous EP, and with good reason. Summer oozes out of the track and shows in the crowd, who silently sway along with the song as the relaxing riff and soft vocals of Amelia Murray lull the audience into the contemplative relaxed state which the band seems entirely dedicated to creating.
If Fazerdaze are quietly contemplating existence in a comfortable sanctuary then We Are Scientists are a cup of coffee before heading out onto the streets. From the moment the New York trio took to the stage they are all energy and massive impact polished sonic assault, the three completely dominate the stage - making it more than clear that they could just as easily take control of a stage three or four times the size without breaking a sweat.
We Are Scientists banter with the audience cheerfully, joking at one another expense and ribbing at the nature of London boroughs (and bassist Chris Cain’s apparent preference for the Shepherd’s Bush locale). After one of such sessions of banter, the band broke into ‘It’s a Hit’ - and a hit it was as the entire audience erupted into song and dance from start to finish. An effect which continued twice fold for the long term fans of the band as they played an older hit, ‘Rules Don’t Stop Me’, the chorus of which had been passionately picked up by the rest of the crowd before the end of the song.
An unexpected hero of the night came in the form of Owen, a member of the venue staff who took to the stage part way through a song to clear up a spilt drink, who then became a central figure of the night - referenced to by the band as having a “masters degree in mopping shit” and later having his name chanted by the audience between songs.
Another surprise treat arrived on stage for Scientist’s encore in the form of Andy Burrows, former drummer for both We are Scientists and the hugely influential Razorlight. Keith and Chris returned to the stage to thunderous applause before stating that there was a surprise guest, who even they had been unaware of the presence of in the venue.
At the arrival of Burrows, the band played ‘Nice guys’ - which itself had been recorded on the band’s classic Barbara album with Andy. Chemistry was still present for the (presumably) unrehearsed reunion of the trio, who left the audience with many a sore throat following the mass of singing and cheering along for the last hurrah of the set.
Words of Nick Roberts