No Devotion played in London last night, on what was the third date of their very first tour. Here's what we learned at the sold-out gig.
No Devotion, live in London
Venue: Islington Academy
Former 'Prophets men return with striking new approach
Samoans fail to rival their lofty influences.
There's a lot of reference points that can be thrown in the direction of Cardiff's Samoans. The angular rock of Biffy Clyro is clearly a major influence on them, while they also have an introspective side reminiscent of Brand New, as well as hints of Foals at their more majestic and some occasional heavier moments that call Deftones to mind. Ultimately what lets them down is the lack of that_ je ne sais quoi_, such as Jesse Lacey's gut wrenching raw emotion, or Simon Neil's wide eyes eccentricities, that leaves them sounding a bit vanilla.
There is a bizarre atmosphere in the air at this gig.
There's obviously a huge elephant in the room tonight and it would be foolish to ignore the members of No Devotion's history. Nobody on the stage dare mention the name Lostprophets, but it is undoubtedly a name hanging heavy in the minds of all those present here tonight. With only a few songs aired to the public there is a lot of curiosity in the room. Given how influential and important to many gathered here their previous outfit was, the usual Friday night rowdy drinkers are absent replaced by a quiet and cautious crowd, nervous of what to expect.
No Devotion have a simple yet powerful aesthetic.
After an on stage huddle the band launch into the public's first real experience of No Devotion, debuting the appropriately titled Night Drive while a screen behind them projects images of roads passing by. It's the perfect accompaniment to their sprawling music, being the ideal soundtrack to getting lost on midnight drives without a care in the world. The projections carry on throughout the show, and while often understated, compliment the music and draw the audience in.
Recent single Stay provides the highlight of the night.
Overlooking the fact that it is the song in the set that is most familiar with the crowd Stay provides to be the biggest song of the night. Preluded by an emotional speech by Geoff Rickly that tugs on already frail emotions in the room, it's enough to get some people reaching for the kleenex. It proves to be a truly beautiful song, even more powerful live. It's majestic, delivering tales of heart break wrapped in an air of positivity that shares that rare quality of making you smile through the tears.
Forget everything you know about the music made by these men in the past: this is a whole different animal.
While nobody was expecting to hear Shinobi Vs Dragon Ninja tonight, it's a safe bet that not a lot of people were expecting something quite so different. With the exception of Stay and 10,000 Summers, the trademark melody and big hooks these individuals wrote as a part of some of the biggest rock songs of the 21st century are sparse. It's very rhythm driven with a shoegaze influence that rings throughout. Also while undoubtedly packed with emotion, Rickly takes a far more subtle approach. The fierce angst of the man on Understanding In A Car Crash is nowhere to be found. With such a drastically different sound it understandably divides the crowd. While there are those that are left cold, there are also those who are already fiercely devoted to No Devotion.