live review ~ volume control presents...'the sea, close by' | oh yeah centre, belfast

If I could have been at Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre from 7pm, believe me I would have. The prospect of a line-up featuring Dublin's answer to Hole (Kate's Party), great quality pop punk (thank you, Dream Awake) & a big ol' slice of hardcore (The Geneva Experiment) looked a tantalizing prospect. Thankfully, my House Of Fraser name tag in hand, I managed to get down just in time to catch 'The Sea, Close By's headline set.

This was undoubtedly a big gig for the band. Not that long into a new name, new line-up and an array of new material, their readjustment period wasn't necessarily over, coming into this. What those at The Oh Yeah Centre witnessed, however, was a display of total confidence in their new form. Relaxing into a set of both old and new, 'The Sea, Close By' shimmered as headliners here. Quick to thank the tireless work of the Volume Control team and their fellow musicians for opening proceedings, it was great to see a band so totally at ease.

Latest single 'The Modern Mercury' was given a new lease of life, as the acoustics of it's current recording was replaced by pulsating drums and some Billy Corgan styled guitar work from Alastair Greyson; all the while bassist Kate Cannon's haunting vocal are left to simply carry the song. It's not a million miles away from 'His New Atlas' and sounds excellent here.

Songs from the bands Paper Man era were also given a run-out, and it was here the crowd really started erupting to the bands definitive alt-sound. 'Poetry's electricity picked up the pace, whilst heavier number 'Kissy Face' kept things frantic, the audience really getting into things now. Then came 'Like TV', a personal favorite and a great example of the maturity of Greyson's songwriting.

"This is the first time, stop screaming in my mind"

'Eyes' too, sounded reinvigorated here. Raw, punchier and considerably more angry than previous live renditions, whether the band were feeding off the energy of the crowd or simply in the zone, this was proving a special night for those in attendance.

Now pretty exhausted, it looked as though The Sea, Close By had given everything they had to their audience (including a stray Wispa bar to one guy who looked as though he'd actually passed out. He didn't though. He was fine.), but they weren't finished yet. Closing number 'Collisions', a song older than the band itself, is simply brilliant. Tonight, it is better than brilliant, it is anthemic, and by the end of the night here in Belfast everybody knows it.

"This is an old one, some of you might know it, so you gotta sing along"

It soon became apparent that everybody knew Collisions. Having the words to your own song sung back to you must be an incredible feeling, and for Alastair Greyson, it's more deserved than most. 

This new Volume Control team are on a roll and long may it continue!

Taylor Johnson

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