Hot on the heels of their breakthrough album Hold On To Your Heart, tonight’s first stop of the tour on a Sunday in Leicester may seem like an underwhelming false start. Upon arrival, following the support act, the venue is easily manoeuvrable with no rush for the front row, no complaints for those who are used to long waits at the bar!
Opening with ‘The Dark’, pockets of the audience are sill mid-conversation. The gentle piano ballad channels the sorrow of early Tom Waits paired with the cheeky wit of Bruce’s ‘Born to Run’. Soon enough, the people enjoying their conversation are drowned out by the the racing ‘Daydream’ with added piano backing track. For a three piece, they still sound as hard hitting as they do on the record. The band stay true to their roots with callbacks to ‘There Is Only You’ and ‘In the Cold We Smile’ but omit their beloved Scatterbrain besides an encore rendition of ‘Slackerpop’.
One particular struggle is the absolute dead silence between songs. Murray MacLeod’s attempts to conjure some banter to fill the empty space, referencing Leicester city’s Premier League win a few years ago and saying how it didn’t last. It definitely feels like the band need to loosen up in places and this happens in the introduction to the saxophone-led ‘Drive Me Wild’, stating that when they were in the studio, they didn’t even consider replicating it live. Murray improvises and invites up a member of the audience up onstage to mouth the saxophone introduction and the tension breaks.
It’s rare for bands these days to play an entire album weeks after release. On a personal level, I feel it’s something that should be embraced more and more with many records these days containing three singles and filler. Every band often embraces their latest album as their best and The Xcerts have assured confidence in Hold On To Your Heart.
Fingers crossed and hopes high that this is the album that helps The Xcerts break the glass ceiling and pushes them onto the bigger stages. After over a decade of hard work, they are more than ready to break through.
Photos by Dan Hess.