Sunday, 15 August 2010

BEDA - Aug15 - Sons of Admirals/John Green

As promised, something is finally happening in my life, as yesterday saw me once again venture to our nations capital (once again for YouTube stuff in fact, although this time I was off to see YouTube super-group Sons of Admirals).

With a capacity of 420 or so at Ice Father Nation, I get the feeling the boys expected to be playing to a half empty room, but oh no: about 1000 people turned up, utter chaos all but destined to break loose.

With just 10minutes to go until show time, and the crowd upstairs anxiously wondering if they’ll ever get in, John Green appears, announcing that there was no way he wasn’t going to let anyone who’d made the journey down.

He would do his reading upstairs in the lobby for those who couldn’t get in, while the band played the first half of their set downstairs, then he would go do his proper reading during the bands interval, but instead of the band taking a break they would come up and play an acoustic set free of charge for the crowd upstairs before returning downstairs to conclude their set.

Many a band would simply have said “sorry we’re full, nothing we can do about it”, and sent people home, so seriously: fair play to the lads for not doing this. They proved that it was the music, and playing for their fans, that was what mattered to them, not just getting the cash of the people inside, and in this modern age: that’s something to truly be admired.

Now anyway: on to the main gig downstairs, what you all want to hear about.

John joined us on stage for a brief reading from Paper Towns, as well as perhaps the most intellectual discussion ever to grace this indie venue, covering topics as wide as “How much of what we see in other people is a reflection of ourselves”, and whether John knew the last words of his tragic Alaska Young (Last words being the obsession of the love struck character Pudge in Looking For Alaska). Then it was time to rock and roll.

Things start leisurely, with the three boys (Charlie Mcdonell unfortunately unable to make it) playing short solo sets of their own work – getting the crowd going. Chant’s of “D-F-T-B-A say DFTBA!” ring through the packed crowd,

First comes Tom Milsom, “the greatest music producer on all of Youtube” as Edd would later refer to him, and its true. Playing the ukulele, the keyboard, the drums and the guitar in the space of his set, he rocks quickly through singalong track’s Indigo and Porphyrophobia (which I know every word to but still cannot pronounce the title!! Dam it Tom!! =D)

Next up it’s the turn of Alex Day. To be totally honest, of the three boys, I was really here to see Alex. As much as I love Tom’s music – and I do, I think Tom has RIDICULOUS talent, which I can only dream of ever imitating - Alex has written some of the best stuff that’s ever gone out on DFTBA, and he doesn’t disappoint here. He whips the crowd into clapping frenzy with fan favourites “Awful Lot of Running” and “Pokemon What Happened to You”, as well as his less nerdy tracks “Time of Your Life” (which he begins with a beautiful acoustic version of the chorus before Tom joins him to play the main keyboard part on the track) and “Georgia”. The personal highlight of the set for me was 2nd album title track “The World is Mine” which sounded even more melodic here with a choir of hundreds singing it back to him than it does on the album. Alex deserves to go so far in his musical career, and I hope he gets picked up by a major label soon.

Another confession: other than Eddplant’s cover on the Erase This album, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to anything he’s ever done. So when he took to the stage, I didn’t really know what to expect. Opening with an AMAZING acoustic cover of King’s of Leon’s Use Somebody, it’s not long before I realise why they’ve let him play last: he really is the headline act. With a much fuller sound than Tom and Alex, most of his set needs them to play behind him.

“Less than Three”, the story of a guy who can’t say the three words “I love you”, yet needs to say something stands as probably the best songwriting effort of the night, and I’d buy the album just for this one song.

As they ramp it up in the second half of the set, there really is only one song they can close with, as the whole of Ice Father Nation explodes into movement for Ed’s superb ANTHEM “Girl Can’t Dance.” I can tell you this: if anyone else there did not know Ed before last night: they know him now, and I can say he has gained at least one subscriber following the gig.

The crowd shout for an encore, and the boys are more than happy to accept. They won’t play Here Comes My Baby though. “It wouldn’t be right without Charlie”, they say, and to be honest they’re right: the song has four verses, and it’s one each. Sure the crowd would know the words to the missing verse, but it really wouldn’t be the same.

Instead they rock out acapella style, closing with Tom’s “Animals”, the 3 quarters of Sons Of Admirals send the crowd out in style.

“We’ll be back soon, we promise!!” they say. And we can only hope that next time round it’s a full UK tour, with the full band – the crowd tonight surely proving they can fill a venue!


  1. James, thanks so much for the terrific review as a fan stuck on the other side of the pond, it was lovely to hear about a live show from a group of musicians I am so very fond of.
    Keep listening and keep us all posted!

  2. I was upstairs and even I thought it was an awesome gig. Hopefully next time they'll be a bigger venue and we'll see more of them. That was an amazing night.

  3. It certainly was amazing, and I had exactly the same point of view about Ed, and Alex was the one who I'd gone there to see, but I realised how great the rest were.
    Oh by the way, that's an amazingly well written review of the night.