LIVE REVIEW: THIRD EYE BLIND – THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON 27/09/2017
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, Third Eye Blind, performed a headline date at London’s Roundhouse on Wednesday.
Led by frontman Stephan Jenkins since 1997, Third Eye Blind have sold over 12 million records since their inception, and their most recent release ‘We Are Drugs’ hit iTunes top 5 alternative records. Over the years, the band has seen many line-up changes, with the current iteration consisting of: Kryz Reid (lead guitar), Alex Kopp (keyboards), Alex LeCavalier (bass guitar), and Brad Hargreaves (drums, percussion). For a band that were once told by Liam Gallagher that, "You guys are shite, you’ll never make it" they continue to sell out numerous headline shows and set attendance records at 2016 summer music festivals worldwide, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Tokyo’s Summersonic and UK’s Reading and Leeds Festivals. Similarly, they've received critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, Kerrang!, MTV, Billboard, and more.
With such boundless praise, expectations for the first night of the UK leg of their tour were high. The combination of seeing a band that I’d grown up with and attending a gig at a legendary venue such as the prestigious Roundhouse made for a beautiful union. My teenage self was enthusiastic, having never had the chance to see Third Eye Blind previously.
Support on the night came from Yorkshire twosome, Seafret - who could be Simon & Garfunkel 2.0 - consisting of singer Jack Sedman (with his big afro and trade-mark all in black outfits) and guitarist Harry Draper (all serious and moody but a dab hand with a guitar – also a ringer for Davy Jones of The Monkees). The duo released a debut album, ‘Tell Me It’s Real’, last year and have played some of the UK’s favourite festivals, including Barn on the Farm, Bestival, 110 Above, Leopallooza, and V Festival. With songs like, ‘Give Me Something’, ‘Oceans’ and ‘Be There’, their strength lies in their honest acoustic sound and slow emotive flair. The disconnect in musical style however between the support and headliner (although not always a bad thing), felt an odd choice. Additionally, for a band whose linchpin is the rawness and vulnerable simplicity of their lyrics, the size and grandeur of the Roundhouse felt too big for them. Although warmly received, their ‘flavour’ was lost on the observers and singer Sedman’s interjections between songs came across as a bit too ‘try hard’ on occasion.
The break between acts gave us some time to assess and gear up for the main event. The venue was filling up but wasn’t brimming like it might be and the audience consisted mainly of 30-somethings and their partners. For a Wednesday night, it felt like a civilised affair. Expecting there to be more ‘buzz’ in the room, the atmosphere instead felt quite ‘flat’, with the exception of the two guys that were stood behind me who animatedly discussed their passion for 3EB (that’s Third Eye Blind, to the non-die-hard fans) and what songs might come up on the set list.
As the lights came up, we finally got a glimpse of the band. Murmurings of “I can’t believe they’re actually here!” quivered amongst the onlookers. The aging rockers sauntered onto the stage to whoops from the appreciative crowd, and the birthday boy himself (Jenkins turned 53 yesterday) stood proud and peacocking in his tight leather jacket and jeans combo to absorb the scene.
With a catalogue spanning two decades of music, the ‘Summer Gods’ tour has seen Third Eye Blind perform to nearly 300,000 people this year, on their 20th anniversary tour. Launching straight into ‘Weightless’, the band proceeded to steamroll through their set, performing hits like ‘Semi-Charmed Life’, ‘Wounded’, ‘Jumper’ and ‘Graduate’ – the latter including a brief moment of comedy from Jenkins as he struggled to disrobe his jacket mid-song.
The first half of the set felt methodical and stilted (almost standoffish). A disconnect was felt between the band and audience, with Jenkins only acknowledging the crowd mid-set and announcing that he’s “friggin’ excited cos (sic) it’s my birthday”. To that point, the crowd attempted to sing him Happy Birthday but were drowned out by the lead singer who proceeded to launch into ‘Rites of Passage’. Thereafter, the momentum changed and ‘Motorcycle Drive By’ got the whole audience singing in unison. Lovers next to me stood embracing; a group of guys near us started moshing; and everyone else stood with their hearts brimming with emotion. As Jenkins was once said in an interview, "Music is really about feelings; it conjures this whole emotional landscape and it creates all kinds of emotions that become a joyous energy".
Although mainly associated with the late 90s ‘post grunge’ era, Third Eye Blind prove to be a band that are in fact timeless (the fact that they can still draw in the crowds is a case in point!). And despite two decades of success, Third Eye Blind are very much focused on the future, with an album named after the current tour ‘Summer Gods’ expected before the end of this year.
The ‘Summer Gods’ tour continues in Glasgow, Manchester and Dublin before heading to the United States for the next leg.
Review by Marijana Mladenic