Seeing Circa Waves perform live is nothing short of a blessing. My second time seeing them definitely did not disappoint- the Liverpudlian indie rockers get better every time. Fresh from the release of their second album, Different Creatures, the four-piece hit up Sheffield’s O2 Academy to kick off a 13 date UK tour, and practically blew the roof off a sold out show.
The support for this tour were INHEAVEN and The Magic Gang, the former being a band I had never listened to but the latter being potentially my favourite band and part of the reason I was desperate to go. I have to admit that INHEAVEN were not my cup of tea per say- I see the appeal, but a lot of their songs felt very angsty 90s rom-com soundtrack to me. Admittedly, ‘Treats‘ was a song I enjoyed but I wasn’t overwhelmed by them.
As previously mentioned, the second support act, The Magic Gang, are one of my favourite bands, if not my favourite. Naturally, I was uncontainably excited beforehand and they did not let me down. Opening their set with one of their earliest songs, ‘She Won’t Ghost‘, the crowd instantly reacted, singing their hearts out and on friend’s shoulders with just a few lines sung by frontman Jack Kaye. The Magic Gang inspire that super happy, screaming along with a massive smile on your face vibe that as an audience member you just cannot resist joining in with (my friend and I can definitely vouch for all of that when they cracked out ‘Blue For You‘ and we didn’t hesistate to scream the lyrics in each other’s faces). Highlights of their set were undoubtedly one of their latest releases from March’s EP Three, ‘How Can I Compete‘; the typically upbeat love song that is a trademark of The Magic Gang was a hit with the crowd without a doubt, as was ‘Jasmine’, a song from their earlier EP. I can’t stress how much I recommend seeing The Magic Gang live if you have the chance- their live performances are so rife with infectious energy that you can guarantee that it will be one of the best gigs you go to. You think they’re good when they’re recorded- seeing them live takes those songs to a whole new level and that is not something you want to miss out on.
The headliners of the night came on not long after, opening with the first offering from their newest album ‘Wake Up’. When Circa Waves dropped this single back in November, I think everyone knew that this album would be a step up from Young Chasers, their sunshine-infused first album. It was rockier, edgier and all round a hell of a lot bolder. Shedding the sun tans that their first album undoubtedly produced as every fan of indie music’s summer soundtrack, Circa Waves emerged with a very different album in Different Creatures, but don’t let that mean it’s not just as good. Confidence suits the band, and their second album oozes the stuff, as does their live performance.
Despite only having last seen Kieran, Colin, Joe and Sam in October 2016, it could have been a different band up on that stage. Of course, their roots are still visible and you can hear echoes of the freedom inspiring tunes of before, but they’re a lot more ambitious now. They’re back and better than ever, and their live set and the crowds reaction attests to that. Greeted with a mix of songs from both albums, the 16 song setlist shows how much they’ve grown as a band- even their older fan favourites are performed with much more power and reiterate how capable they are now. One of my favourite songs by them, ‘Get Away’ was definitely a highlight, prompting a whole crowd singalong that was set to last the entirety of their set.
Possibly one of the best moments of their set was when the rest of the band disappeared and just frontman Kieran Shudall and an acoustic guitar remained as we were treated to ‘Loves Run Out’, their slowest song but simultaneously one of their best. The entire 2000+ were still and relatively quiet for the first time in the set and it was a really beautiful moment. Nevertheless, the relentless energy of a couple thousand overjoyed teenagers swiftly returned with the final two songs from the band, ‘Fire That Burns’ and ‘T-Shirt Weather’.
It is a fact universally acknowledged that it isn’t a sunny day until ‘T-Shirt Weather’ has been played. However, it is still as magical an experience if it is a dull, grey March day in Sheffield. It is one of those songs that creates that specific atmosphere that I, and many others like me, love going to gigs for. It’s very much a ‘dancing with your friends, singing along with strangers and jumping in a pit of happy but sweaty people’ song. It is one of the best live songs of any band in my opinion, and the happiness that comes from hearing that with thousands of people singing along is one that just can not be described. Go see Circa Waves just for that experience. You won’t regret it.
You can catch Circa Waves at various festivals this summer, including Leeds & Reading Festival. Their album, Different Creatures, is available now.