PLUS: Dave Hause and The Dear And Departed
The Waterfront, Norwich
9th May 2012
Words and Photos: Charlie Wallis
So it’s finally here, after being pushed back at the last minute last time this show has come around and Alkaline Trio are playing to sold out crowd at The Waterfront in Norwich and the venue fills up quickly. It’s been often said that Alkaline Trio are one of those bands who, when on their game, are mind blowing to watch, but can all too easily slip into the realms of tedium. It will be interesting given postponements and the fact that this is nearing the end of the tour which side of the scale they’ll end up on tonight.
First band on tonight are moody Orange County rockers The Dear and Departed who are given the role of kicking the evening into gear. What’s noticeable about this band from the get go is the atmosphere they create is aided in a big way by the stage presence of kiwi lead singer Dan Smith who oozes charisma, falling somewhere in between Morrissey and AFI’s Davey Havoc. The band put on a strong showing but struggle to get much in the way of attention from the crowd which is starting the burgeon mercilessly which is something of a shame as they deserve far more of a reaction than they end up getting.
Second on is singer songwriter boy wonder Dave Hause who, despite the acoustic nature of his set manages to provoke something of a reaction from the crowd. It may be the sheer brass balls of opening for one of the biggest names in punk music on just your todd, but the audience respond incredibly positively to the one man show, especially when the one man turns into two as Alkaline Trio bassist Dan Andriano takes to the stage acoustic in tow for a couple of songs. One thing the set doesn’t do is provide much in the way of energy for the crowd to feed off and subsequently psyche themselves up for the top of the bill, leaving Alkaline Trio a mammoth of a task to try and get the whole crowd motivated.
Now at the start of this review I said that Alkaline Trio trend one of two performances, but tonight that trend appears to have been bucked in the sense that it was bang in the middle. This tour marks the 15 year anniversary for Alkaline Trio and the effect of a decade and a half of doing this shows in more ways than one. Despite a set list comprised of the more obscure elements of Alkaline Trio’s back catalogue the sound is incredible. Matt Skibas voice is unparalleled in this kind of music and the sound is tighter than a nun’s chastity belt. It’s hard to argue that the evening felt lacking for a lack of favourites like “Private Eye” and “Stupid Kid” but what I missed more was the energy Alkaline Trio have been famous for. In between songs the band are extremely entertaining but in many respects much of the musical performance felt slightly rigid which could be down to any number of factors, an insufficiently warmed up crowd, the tour nearing it’s end e.t.c. but whatever the reason something of the magic was missing.
I doubt Alkaline Trio will have lost any fans tonight and all in all it was a well executed, if a little lack lustre performance.