WITTERQUICK / LAST ONE HOME / MAX ALEXANDER - Cavern, Exeter 01.06.19
WITTERQUICK are back on home turf tonight at the Exeter Cavern, almost a year after the last time they played here. Joining them tonight are melodic alt rock/pop three-piece LAST ONE HOME and also playing tonight is singer-songwriter MAX ALEXANDER, who supported the guys last time they played here. Things have been very quiet in the WITTERQUICK camp of late, with this gig only being announced via a couple of social media announcements.
MAX ALEXANDER is first tonight for a short yet proficient set led by an intense instrumental number. The stage is bare save for him and his acoustic guitar and nothing else is needed. The percussive style in which he plays is compelling and his soulful voice clear and tells a story. The Cavern is around half full as Max performs his set and the audience are appreciative. Of the handful of original songs included, ‘Freedom’ and closer ‘Running’ are highlights and the latter is instantly recognisable from the last time I saw Max perform; there’s even a bit of impromptu sing-a-long from the audience too.
Next up tonight it’s LAST ONE HOME, who have put up two large boards at the front of the stage with their logo, serving as a visual aid in place of a backdrop. Songwriter/singer/guitarist Tom’s vocals are engaging and his playing is skilled. He’s the obvious focal point as well as being the most expressive on stage. That said, it’s easy to see why this young trio work well together, as drummer Phil is also confident and pulls off deftly-produced beats as well as providing backing vocals, together with competent bassist Harry. The band’s seven song set includes the songwriting award-winner from Music Expo 2018, ‘Bring Down the Storm’, new song ‘Lost in the Sound’, which features some great backing vocals from Harry, and the band’s last single ‘You Don’t Have to Hold on’. This band are an ideal support for WITTERQUICK and the audience seem to enjoy their set, which concludes with new single ‘Give You the World’. It’s a well focussed and efficient set.
Tom Westlake - vocals/guitar
Harry Lowndes - bass/backing vocals
Phil Horler - drums/backing vocals
As the last remnants of the support band’s drum kit leave the stage, the crowd at the Cavern are oh so ready for WITTERQUICK. This night has been a long time coming and you can feel the sense of excitement in the air. This is a band with no airs and graces, they just walk onto the stage and get straight down to the business of their opening song, ‘Shattered Suns’. Through a whirl of smoke, vocalist Will appears, to join guitarists Ben and Sean, bass player Ollie and guest drummer for tonight, the band’s original drummer Joe. What strikes me straight away is the difference in how the band appear from a year ago. Their overall look is more striking and has clearly been thought about and put together; it really suits them. None of this takes anything away from what they do really well, which is to make playing accessible alt rock/pop that really lifts the spirits look effortless. ‘Hiding Place’ follows, which Will sings with apparent ease and perfect control, his vocals are beautiful.
Drummer Joe is hard hitting and never misses a beat, while bass player Ollie draws the eye as he places his foot on the monitor, hitting out his solid grooves. Guitarists Ben and Sean both produce the harmonious riffs that gives the band their hooks and singing melodies, but neither take centre stage. As they run through their set, each song is joined in heartily by the crowd, but none more so than ‘Wayward Signs’. It’s during this that Will admits defeat and lets the audience belt out the rest. The band all look a little emotional and proud to see and hear so many people singing this song back to them, it’s a really special moment.
We’re then treated to a verse and chorus of new song ‘Demons’ and another new song, ‘Violence and Riots’ before ‘I Need a Friend Tonight’ and the energetic ‘Bubblegum’, for which the band produce inflatable beach balls and flamingos that proceed to get batted around the place for the duration of the song. It bonkers, it’s bubblegum, it’s WITTERQUICK! Thankfully the balls are a little smaller than last year, but they still pack a punch.
There was a party going on in the Cavern tonight, which continued with two encore songs, ‘Rise’ and ‘Soldiers’. Will asks the crowd, “Are you fucking ready for this, Exeter?” I thought the crowd were going to take the roof off, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an audience so enthusiastic in their singing and dancing along at a gig. The last song was extended so the crowd could get even more out of it, and then Will asked them to clear a space so he could get off the stage and start a mosh pit in the middle. What a night! I was thoroughly entertained!
Will Alford - vocals/acoustic guitar
Sean Davey - guitar
Ben Chanter - guitar/backing vocals
Ollie Chanter - bass/backing vocals
(On drum duty tonight - Joe Napper)
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