Photo Credit Linda Flynn
This was my first visit to the O2 Academy 2, Islington and I have to say it’s a lovely intimate venue with a very cosy stage!
The venue steadily filled as the crowd awaited the first band of the night, Departed. This isn’t a band I’m familiar with, however I have huge respect for the guitarist, Ben Brookland, having seen him play with a previous band. They bounded on to the stage and every band member oozed personality from the get go as they let rip with some classic rock with a distinctive Led Zep/Aerosmith influence. Vocalist Mark Pascall completely connected with the crowd, which is always refreshing to see, while Connor Spring (Drums) and Howie Spring (Bass) clearly looked like they were having a ball. Ben, as always, was a complete joy to watch. The crowd were very quickly happily tapping their feet and nodding along as we were treated to the entirety of their self titled debut EP. Those I spoke to after had all enjoyed the set. Departed are a well oiled live band who know how to work a room, I definitely think this is a band to keep an eye on.
Next on the bill were Liberty Lies. They are a well-honed act, having played with the likes of Shinedown and Halestorm and more recently, SOiL. Knowing how to work a room wasn’t something they needed to worry about; as soon as they took to the stage, a group of hardened fans surged forward from the very diverse crowd. They played hard, fast, and loud and the crowd lapped it up in spades. Shaun Richards has an outstanding live voice, something that can’t always be said for alternative/metal vocalists, and I was genuinely stunned. Adam Howell (Bass) never stood still and was animated and engaging throughout the set. Adam Stevens was an absolute monster on the drums, whilst Josh Pritchett and Liam Billings totally shredded their guitars. The band cite Rage Against the Machine as one of their influences and it was no surprise the crowd thoroughly enjoyed themselves when they unleashed an excellent cover of Testify. Liberty Lies are slightly too far over towards the metal end of the spectrum for my personal taste, but there is no denying that they are damn good at what they do and went down brilliantly with the crowd. I can see good things happening for them in the future.
Headlining the night were The Fallen State, a young and upcoming, energetic 5 piece rock band. As they took to the stage, vocalist Ben Stelling wasted no time in getting the crowd bouncing as they launched straight into Hope In Revival. Ben had the crowd eating out of his hand all night as they tore through tracks spanning all of their EP releases to date. When he asked the crowd to jump during The Great Unknown, they jumped; when he asked everyone to get down during You Want It, the room got down and jumped up in unison on his command. It was clear that the band were thriving on the crowd’s reaction, this was a rock show and they wanted everyone to have a good time. The energy on stage was relentless and it seemed as if every band member was making a point of engaging with every single person in the room. The interaction between them on that small stage was great, I personally love watching a band who are clearly enjoying themselves. Even more so, I love to look round a room and see the crowd enjoying themselves and Islington did not disappoint.
Musically they were tight, and this was particularly noticeable during the slower, more melodic tracks, Sons of Avarice and the absolutely brilliant Nova, where Jon Price’s and Dan Oke’s guitars combined with so much emotion it floated around the room, kept aloft by Greg Butler’s bass. Rich Walker’s drum solo was a joy to watch and also, I imagine a welcome breather for the crowd who had not stopped bouncing for the whole set.
All tracks from their latest EP, The View From Ruin, were included in the setlist and its evident that these tracks were written to be played live.
The Fallen State put on a proper rock show and I cannot recommend seeing them enough. Check them out on these following dates:
March 11th Nottingham, Rock City Basement
June 24th Wildfire Festival
July 21st, 22nd, 23rd Amplified Festival (day not yet confirmed)
July 29th/30th Ramblin’ Man Fair (day not yet confirmed)