It’s been three years since The Early November came back from their hiatus refreshed as ever as in the form of the critically acclaimed In Currents. Their upcoming record Imbue shows no signs of the band slowing down with a lot of dark brooding moments complimented by bursts of aggression and no ballads in sight.
Local lads Maycomb open up tonight, starting of proceedings with the anthemic ‘Hell’. Maycomb are one of the scene’s best kept secrets that desperately need to be within the same league as the bands headlining the bill tonight. This becomes a lot more apparent on ‘Mary Rose’ where the band each dart across the stage when the song drops.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves contradict this however. Their blend of slacker indie pop hasn’t quite reached these shores yet and although songs like ‘Alligator Bop’ feel a lot more refined than they do on the record, the crowd doesn’t quite get it. ‘Pet Mouse’ is one of the few moments during the band’s set where we see a bit of energy from the band as a collective.
Coming to the end of the tour cycle for their incredible sophomore effort Keep Doing What You’re Doing, You Blew It! open up with ‘Lanai’ from their latest EP of the same name. The band persevere through technical issues with the sound and their set pulls from a diverse selection of their catalogue, with fans being treated to an impromptu performance of ‘Pinball House’ seamlessly into ‘The One With David’.
The real highlight of the band’s set however is “Award Of The Year Award” which isn’t sung with too much conviction from the band but still maintains that stop and start energy. By playing that song so early in the set, it feels like the band have laid out all of their cards on the table however. ‘Better To Best’ brings the band’s set to an anthemic close with the band hoping to come back soon to catch the Alien Ant Farm / Hoobastank tour.
2012 was the last time The Early November came to Wolverhampton as a part of Slam Dunk Midlands. It’s safe to say that a lot has happened in-between then, with the band investing time with their families (two members couldn’t make the trip over for this tour) as well as, retrospectively looking back at their career with the 10 year anniversary of their debut record The Room’s Too Cold. Now on the cusp of a record which is being hailed as their best to date, it’s exciting to see how far they have come as a band.
As the band come to the stage, they waste no time kicking into the frantic ‘Frayed In Doubt’ straight into the soaring chorus of ‘I Want To Hear You Sad’. Pulling their set from a lot of earlier material, older songs feels reinvigorated like they’ve been given new life. In particular ‘Fluxy’ feels slightly emptier without Kenny Vasoli’s additional vocal but the breakdown hits a lot harder.
The energy dips on ‘Hair’ with frontman Ace Enders commenting that “the video for this song costed what most people make in a year”, reminiscing how crazy the days were before the band’s break-up. The song’s twee-pop chorus is a short-lived cringe which is instantly made up for by hilarious topical onstage banter by lead guitarist Bill Lugg. Pulling out a list of local topics to talk about, Bill’s deadpan delivery has the crowd in stitches, especially when he brings up local football (or as he referred to it ‘soccer’) team Wolverhampton FC.
‘Boxing Timelines’ from Imbue provides a refreshing take on the band’s signature sound with some poignant lyrics about growing old with someone. Ace Enders has always shown his strong point in his love songs and this is no exception as he reflects “every note that we wrote in a box with every ticket from every movie that I ever saw”. Talking about the song after as “a song about nostalgia and going through boxes in the attic”, The Early November feel like that band who have been in the attic, relying on their older songs, and are ready to show that they are still a hard-hitting act who can write powerful songs.