Brand New don’t play in the UK very often, in fact they did not touch down on British shores at all in 2008. For a band with such a strong British following this may seem a bit unfair, but it turns out it may well be a blessing in disguise. Brand New were not in the UK promoting a new album and the fact that they were playing a relatively intimate venue (2300 person capacity; half the size of what they have sold out previously) gave the evening a ‘for the fans’ atmosphere. This was backed up by the set list, which consisted of plenty of old favorites from the band’s first two albums, Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, that have barely seen the light of day whilst Brand New have been on tour in their native USA.
In fact the first half of the show consisted solely of their older, more straightforward, emo anthems. Upon taking to the stage the band burst straight into ‘The Shower Scene’ shortly followed up by ‘The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows’. The exuberant crowd sang every word at the top of their lungs whilst bouncing violently in time with the songs. These livelier numbers were followed up by the slower ‘The No Seat Belt Song’ which allowed the crowd to rest their legs for a short period but at the same time meant that they could raise their voices to a new peak.
Brand New played a few more older tracks before new song ‘Gasoline’ kicked off the second half of the set which, apart from one other new song, consisted entirely of songs from their most recent album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. For this segment of the show the crowd was still singing, but not quite as deafeningly, allowing themselves more opportunity to admire the musicianship and craft of these later songs. Singer Jesse Lacey gave it his all; screaming his lungs out in ‘Sowing Season’ and then switching to his a mellower croon for the sermon-like ‘Jesus’, captivating the audience throughout.
Towards the end of the set Lacey, with one of his few moments of speech of the evening made sure to let the crowd know how much they appreciate the support of their fans, a sentiment that was returned with enthusiastic applause. They closed out the main set with two of their finest songs ‘Degausser’ and ‘You Won’t Know’.
The band left the stage but the crowd was going nowhere, demanding the encore that they, and the band themselves earned. A smiling Jess Lacey returned to the stage and grabbed his acoustic guitar to play a tongue-in-cheek, yet surprisingly faithful cover of The Temptations’ classic ‘My Girl’, which may not fit with Brand New’s aesthetic, but was a welcome surprise anyway, and it was a shame that he cut it short after the first chorus. The following double header of ‘Mix Tape’ and ‘Seventy Times 7’, both from their debut album saw the crowd at their loudest and liveliest all night, particularly during the latter.
The final song of the evening was a great surprise and a truly special moment. Lacey, alone on the stage played an acoustic cover of the Neutral Milk Hotel song ‘Oh Comely’ from a record that he once called “the most beautiful album of all time”. For the majority of the crowd this seemed to be the first time they had ever heard the song, but the ones who knew the song had their mouths open in awe. Everyone without exception was stunned; it was the perfect way to end what was a loud, engrossing and overall stunning evening.
The Shower Scene
The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
The No Seat Belt Song
Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades
Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t
Jaws Theme Swimming
Play Crack The Sky
Gasoline (New Song)
The Archers Bows Have Broken
Brick/Bride (Title unsure – New Song)
You Won’t Know
My Girl (Temptations cover (first verse + chorus only))
Seventy Times 7
Oh Comely (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)