Review: Circa Waves at The Crescent


Niamh Kitson reviews Circa Waves' intimate album launch gig at The Crescent in York

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Image by Niamh Kitson

By Niamh Kitson

There’s nothing more exciting than an intimate gig: being close to your favourite artist, more audience interaction and shorter queues for the bar. Due to illness, the band’s January academy tour was postponed, so there was lots of anticipation before Circa Wave’s gig at The Crescent in York. This was the first time that the Liverpudlian band were to play songs from their newest album, Never Going Under, live. This being their fifth album (including one that is a double feature), Circa Waves have been a staple in the UK indie rock scene for almost a decade – this was not a gig to miss. By the time we arrived at the venue shortly after doors opened, the posters made exclusively for this event had sold out; clearly the crowd were keen. This was to be a special gig.

Opting for no opening act, by the time Circa Waves took the stage, the crowd were clearly excited, willing the gig to begin. The set opened as the album does, with the eponymous ‘Never Going Under’. It was fitting as frontman Kieran Shudall sang “This room was made for me and you”, and, from the connection between the band and the audience, it really felt like it. This was followed by a few older fan favourites: the lead single from their third album, ‘Movies’ as well as ‘Fossils’ from their first album. These opening three songs set the tone for the rest of the set, and between each song there was ample audience interaction.

The anthem ‘Do You Wanna Talk?’ was a highlight of the concert, with every member of the audience joining in to sing the chorus with the band. Listening to the studio recorded version, it’s hard to miss the live potential of the song. It is a classic earworm; my friends and I have been singing it for the days following the gig. Again, this was followed by a few older songs, including ‘Stuck In My Teeth’, another great tune for audience participation.

Next it was time for my favourite from the new album and the song I was most excited for, ‘Your Ghost’. Shudall joked with the audience that there was potential for this one to go wrong; it was after all the first time they had played it in front of an audience. However, it did not disappoint and sounded remarkably close to the studio version. Followed by the playful ‘Hell On Earth’, this pair of songs highlighted the subtle versatility of the newest album.

Straying away from the setlist, we were also treated to the added bonus ‘Fire That Burns’, the only song included from the second album Different Creatures. Having to accommodate five albums within an hour set was clearly a difficult feat, but I was glad that the set list was flexible, allowing the band to play what they felt was right for this specific gig.

After such an amazing gig, there was only one way to end the set: ‘T-Shirt Weather’, the first time that they had played it this year. The energy in the room lifted to another notch with everyone in the room bouncing. Following the gig, lead guitarist, Joe Falconer, bassist, Sam Rourke, and drummer, Colin Jones, manned the merch stall – yet another benefit of an intimate gig. Luckily, we managed to secure signatures and guitar picks, as well as a few words with the band members. Ears ringing, we headed home with the post-gig buzz, still as prominent as the first time I saw Circa Waves live when I was fifteen.

With the postponed academy shows in June and a run of festival dates in the summer, this year seems promising for Circa Waves, and I look forward to hopefully seeing them again. The set list had a perfect mix of old and new, and Never Going Under is a fantastic album which translates exceptionally well live. My only complaint following this gig was I wish it could have been longer!