It’s been almost a year since indie darlings Alvvays dropped anchor on Brighton shores. The Canadian five-piece stole the show last October supporting Real Estate at Komedia. Now they’re back and expectations are high as an excitable crowd slowly builds in Concorde’s main room.
Louisville upstarts White Reaper do nothing to calm the fever with their punk tenacity and razor sharp riffs. They’re like the evil Bill & Ted versions of Chicago’s Twin Peaks. All B-movie keys and distorted guitars – they fall somewhere between CBGB’s punk and beach goth. Imagine The Growlers covering The Ramones after trading the acid for amphetamines.
As if being exorcised, the eyes of Keyboardist Ryan Hater roll back into his head while he contorts around his instrument. Vocalist and guitarist Tony Esposito pulls out a solo on his knees from Marty McFly’s playbook while bassist Sam Wilkerson does his best Sid Vicious impression stood atop his amp. White Reaper gesticulate like they’re headlining an arena show and the crowd react appropriately.
Alvvays enter in cinematic style to the sound of piercing bagpipes and cheers. “Brighton is our favourite UK city,” says femme fatale Molly Rankin through a rouge smile.
‘Your Type’ opens the set in raucous fashion – the first of a handful of promising new songs tonight which indicate a heavier sophomore album is on its way.
The pace doesn’t relent as they tear through a beefed up rendition of ‘Adult Diversion’. Guitars and keys chime together and we can almost feel the warm sand between our toes. “I will retreat and then go back to university,” sings Rankin as the students around us erupt in a pit.
‘Next Of Kin’ is equally well received with its mournful lyrics and jangling hooks marrying together like Morrisey and Marr. “I lost his hand in the current,” sings Rankin forlornly. Morose but uplifting, it’s their take on ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.
The singer’s voice is in danger of disappearing in the high notes of ‘Party Police’. Rankin admits to the crowd that she’s under the weather. The fans don’t seem to mind and lend a hand filling in the gaps in the chorus. “Thanks for supporting my weird smoking voice,” she says with an embarrassed smile.
She digs heroically deep for ‘Archie Marry Me’ which is still managing to cause life affirming spine-tingles a year on. It reaches dizzying highs in the Concorde as hundreds of people bellow the words in unison. We’re left puzzled wondering what they can possibly do for an encore.
We don’t have to wait long for an answer. “I’m going to try something different,” says Rankin after she re-emerges onstage under auburn lights. A solo performance of ‘Red Planet’ thrusts the singer to the far reaches of her vocal range. Luckily she pulls it off and the atmosphere is captivating. The band return for a festive rendition of Kirsty MacColl’s ‘He’s On The Beach’ which seems to gain approval from old and young fans alike. We’re left glowing and can’t help but think there’s hope of an Indian summer yet.