It’s been an exciting time to be an Xcerts fan. Following on from the release of their critically acclaimed record Hold Onto Your Heart last year, the band have embarked on packed-out headline tours and opened up for You Me At Six, Deaf Havana, Goo Goo Dolls and more recently Busted on a string of arena shows, including one date at Wembley Stadium.
Performing this evening at The Castle & Falcon (previously Ceol Castle), an idyllic venue situated on the outskirts of Birmingham surrounded by… Well nothing. The venue looks a bit out of place on the street, and would have a lot of potential if only it had more around it. During the supports, there was a lot of open space but thankfully the room packed out by the time Xcerts were about to go onstage.
As the band took to the stage, Murray Macleod warned the audience that he was suffering heavily from a cold so he needed the crowd to help him sing. Despite this setback, his humour still shone through though as he laughed whilst describing it as “a knock to the ego after playing arenas all last week”. Macleod powered through and there’s still a huge amount of energy as they open with ‘Daydream’.
One thing that’s becomes apparent is how quickly the audience have picked up on the songs from the Wildheart Dreaming EP released only a week previous to this gig. The songs already stand in the band’s repertoire as if they’ve been there for years with huge singalongs on ‘Ready to Call’ and ‘You Mean Everything’ leading the charge, whilst the intimate ‘Real Love’ commands dead silence throughout the crowd (apart from one confused and attention-starved chap shouting “mon the biff” – fuck that guy).
As a fan who is at least in double digits of seeing the band live, the omission of a lot of older songs is disappointing. However, it’s understandable that the band can’t easily stick the visceral Scatterbrain in the same set as the clean-cut pop hits from Hold Onto Your Heart. However, before performing ‘Aberdeen 1987’, Murray announced that the band will be touring the 10 year anniversary of their debut record Crisis in the Slow Lane later in the year.
The band’s encore was stacked with songs which showcased different stages of their career. ‘There is Only You’, from their last record of the same name, is a sombre piano-led moment which builds up into a heavy ending. ‘Shaking in the Water’ channels grunge-pop riffs mixed with an infectious chorus. Finally, with ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ the band strike gold, all throughout the evening there’s been a lot more confidence in their playing and this is boosted by a huge surge of voices singing the powerfully simplistic chorus. As the band set down their instruments after another successful night playing to a packed room, the crowd continue to sing. Even though it’s been over a decade for the band, it feels like this is perhaps just the start.
Photos by Dan Hess.