Filtering out amongst the slew of bodies, you can’t help suspect they’ll be ready to tackle Colston on their next visit.
Everything seems to have clicked into place for The War On Drugs in the last few months. The same week that they deliver a soaring set on Jools Holland, the Philadelphia bunch pack out Bristol’s Academy so that it’s tricky for most to even catch a glimpse of the band.
“The last time we were here we played Thekla” comments singer Adam Granduciel, “it’s good to be off Thekla”, he remarks to the general awkwardness of the audience. “Is Thekla better than here?” he then asks. This soon gets the crowd roaring in agreement. Such comments about one of Bristol’s most beloved venues is hardly the best way to kick things off – but it’s all taken with a pinch of salt.
They open with ‘Burning’ from latest album ‘Lost In The Dream’. You can’t help but close your eyes and listen to the fragile synths filled with such passion. It’s like they’re sharing something extremely personal with those gathered in front of them, almost as if we’re being let in on a secret.
It’s hard to believe that a the departure of Kurt Vile threatened the future of this band only a few years ago. Now they’re undoubtedly at the peak of their game. Not only that, the modest looking figures onstage are relishing it as they breeze through the newer material. It should come as no surprise that ‘Red Eyes’ saw the crowd most animated, it’s a song that has the power to make you well up, make you feel like you can take on the world. “Woo!” screams Granduciel as the soaring guitar riff comes in all guns blazing. It’s a moment that makes you think, yes, this is something truly special.
If one thing is prominent, it’s the sharp humour of Granduciel, he has all the traits of a top frontman, something which clashes well against the seriousness of the music. After a triumphant rendition of ‘Eyes To The Wind’ the band exit the stage. Returning to the golden sounds of desperate stomping, they fire into a cover George Harrison’s ‘Beware Of Darkness’. This track is the perfect choice for the mature crowd, half of whom look like original members of Led Zeppelin.
The night ultimately proves that the band are unstoppable right now, filtering out amongst the dense slew of people, you can’t help suspecting that they’ll be ready to tackle Colston on their next visit.
Check out ‘Red Eyes’ right here: