It went off bigtime in Nottingham last night (Sunday). The Amazons were in town – fourth stop of a 12-date tour – and Rock City was rammed and rockin’. If the volume of an audience’s appreciation was currency, the four-piece Reading band would be minted today!
Matt Thomson – vocals and guitar, Chris Alderton – guitar, Elliot Briggs – bass and Joe Emmett on drums are The Amazons and they formed in 2014. Tonight the close to 2,000 capacity fans were treated to 18 songs, including two for the encore, with fan faves and deep cuts going back seven or more years.
Three albums to their credit thus far; Self-titled debut in 2017 (# 8 in UK chart), a live album in June 2018, “Future Dust” in 2019 (# 9 in chart) and their current long player, “How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?” (# 5 in chart) which dropped in September 2022 on Fiction Records. Plus an EP in 2015 and a slew of singles, the latest being “Bloodrush” and “Ready For Something” taken from their latest album.
The boys were in Nottingham about three weeks ago performing a short set and a fan meet and greet at Rough Trade, as part of a record store tour to plug the new record. See our coverage of that in the Features Zone.
This band have smashed it at a string of summer festivals, and they have teamed up with ‘BBC Introducing’ to curate the supports across this headline run. A great opportunity for grassroots music, the partnership sees the band and ‘BBC Introducing’ offering emerging acts the chance to step onto the big stage in their hometown.
Tonight it is the turn of young local post-punk four piece Cucamaras, who did a really good job with a tight 30-minute set, and the crowd’s very enthusiastic reaction maybe took the lads by surprise judging by the front man’s on-stage comment: “This is mental!” This band play The Rescue Rooms in their own right on 17th November. Worth the effort….
So, to the tasty main course after the pleasing starter; The Amazons… They open withm “How Will I Know?”, written while lead singer Matt Thomson and his girlfriend were torn apart for the best part of seven months during the pandemic. It is the album’s opener, a euphoric rock anthem and perfect choice to kick off the set with.
Their third album is both a love letter and a rallying cry. “Expansive, uplifting, sun-drenched singalongs”, produced by Jim Abbiss (Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Adele), and featuring co-writing collaborations with the likes of Maggie Rogers and Jamie Hartmann.
They keep the stage set simple; a white backdrop with window frame designs, and from the off all four lads really go for it, and there is a frenzied reaction to not only the end of each song, but also the start when the fans recognise the track.
At the start of second song in, “Ready For Something”, Matt leaps off the stage and into the pit, to clamber up onto the barrier and get up close and personal with those lucky fans at the front. A zillion mobile ‘phones capture the moment. Quite the showman with good stage craft, Matt creates a singing contest between each half of the audience for song # four, “25”. Methinks it was a draw!
After “In The Morning”, Matt tells the fans how much the band appreciate the crowd joining them for the night, and speaks about the “identity crisis” the band had during the time off for the pandemic, not being able to perform and interact with the crowd . Citing this tour as the light at the end of the tunnel. He recalled playing Nottingham three years ago, which I assume is when they supported Royal Blood at the Motorpoint Arena.
The next sing, “There’s A Light” fits with the theme of a light at the end of the tunnel and prompts a sea of lights from mobiles. Before “In My Mind” Matt introduces each band member, and it is not too long before the mosh pit erupts in the middle of the venue.
Before an acoustic interlude with “One By One”, Matt has a wee political rant about how he is “sick and tired” of the same people running the country (stick to the music, lad!). Just Matt and guitarist Chris on for “One By One” before the other two lads come back for “Say It Again” and “Northern Star”, the drummer on tambourine for parts of the latter song.
As twinkling stars appeared on the backdrop, we were told: “This song is dedicated to the loved one, either friends, family or the stranger right next to you in the venue”, says Matt.
This song released less then a month ago, and Matt was surprised the crowd knew all the words. He asks the crowd to get “squeezy cheesy” and light up the whole venue with their ‘phones. The house lights are off, but it’s still bright.
The mosh pit is back for “Wait For Me” and there’s another bit of acoustic business for “Night Driving”. But before this song, Matt introduces the band’s manager, explaining this is his last tour with the Amazons before retiring from the music industry, and how this band are on a mission on this tour; to find ways to convince him to stay with them.
Before the last song of the set, “Junk Food Forever” before the two-song encore, the fans are asked to show some love for the support act of the night, Nottingham band Cucamaras, Matt reminiscing about when The Amazons were also just starting out and used every chance to play live. Matt went on to pay tribute to all the Nottinghamshire venues where they’ve played to date.
The shouts for more were deafening and lives could have been at risk had the band buggered off before two more songs, “Blood Rush” and “Black Magic”, and the fans reacted like their lives depended on it and the band got stuck in with the same energy levels as song # one. The crowd even appreciated the brief drum solo at the very end.
This band’s star is very much still on the ascendancy. They are not the finished article by any means, but they are real and they clearly live to play live and love to play live and sincerely appreciate their fans – and their management – and come across as four very likeable down-to-earth lads with zero ego nonsense or diva bullshit.
Let’s hope it stays that way when, in a few years’ time and with the wind behind them, they are filling arenas and chalking up a few # 1 albums.
Take note you four lads in Cucamaras – this the way to do it!
Photos: Andrea Bottino
Words: Steve Best & Andrea Bottino