Milburn @ Riverside

Milburn, an indie rock four-piece hailing from Sheffield, brought the UK leg of their tour to a conclusion with a night at the Riverside, the venue that staged the first gig of their comeback in 2016.

The night kicked off with support act Neon Waltz, who played a few songs from their new album Strange Hymns to a quite empty room. Their sound, however, was befitting of a much larger crowd, with songs such as ‘Heavy Heartless’ making a seamless transition between melodic, relaxing tones and more energetic choruses. Those who did make it down to see the band were treated to an enjoyable performance, one that left me with no doubt that Neon Waltz would be more than worth seeing again.

The crowds began to appear soon after this, and Milburn’s arrival on stage was greeted with much excitement. The band started proceedings with a song from their new album Time, the first being the titular track itself. This relaxed, refined song was followed by ‘Midnight Control’, the first track released by the band following their comeback in April 2016. The first line “hold on tight, things are getting started” was almost served as a warning to anyone not familiar with Milburn, with the more mature and nuanced sound of these new releases giving way to the vociferous and raw sound of the bands earlier years. ‘Lucy Lovemenot’ and it’s driving guitar stirred the crowd, and ‘Send in the Boys’ saw them erupt. The bouncing started almost immediately after the rousing opening fill by drummer Joe Green and didn’t stop until the very last chord of the song, showcasing the band’s ability to invigorate an audience.

An air of aggression met with a lively response

‘A.O.S.D’, ‘Take me Home’ and ‘In the City’ again provided a sense of the band’s new material, with these songs being somewhat calmer and focused on the lyrics of frontman Joe Carnall Jr. His claim that the Newcastle crowd was only a 6/10 was perceived as a challenge, one that was duly answered during ‘Showroom’, with fast paced drumming, strong riffs and lyrics sang with an air of aggression being met with a lively response. ‘Cheshire Cat Smile’ and ‘Count to Ten’ both elicited similar responses from the crowd, and ‘Well Well Well’, with its long pause between the powerfully driven opening and the verses, created a moment of anticipation that melted into a riotous sound.

A stripped back version of ‘Storm in a Teacup’ was a personal favourite, with its gentle, almost ethereal chords courtesy of Louis Carnall and Tom Rowley and emotionally sung lyrics transforming the song, giving it a dreamy and somewhat romantic air. ‘Lipstick Licking’ reinvigorated the crowd after this breather with yet more impressively dynamic drumming and frenetic guitar sounds building the energy right back up.

‘Nothing for You’, ‘Lo and Behold’ and ‘What Will You Do When The Money Goes?’ continued in a similarly vigorous manner, leading up to a two song encore consisting of ‘Roll Out The Barrel’ and ‘What You Could’ve Won’. The first of these, an acoustic song performed by Joe Carnall Jr, got what felt like the entire crowd singing along earnestly. It’s witty lyricism regarding a night out was almost too relatable, and it acted as a perfect penultimate song. Lastly, ‘What You Could’ve Won’ served a final reminder of what to expect from Milburn. Its verses start peacefully, with Carnall singing over gently strummed chords, but an ensuing crescendo leads to the raw, energetic sound that typifies Milburn’s earlier albums. The crowd were as responsive as they had been all night, descending into four minutes of mayhem for this last song.

Overall, Milburn showcased both the youthful exuberance associated with their early days and the refined sound that they have developed during their comeback. These two went hand in hand, and more than pleased the crowd, suggesting that the next time Milburn tour, a return to Newcastle will definitely be on the cards.

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