If I had to choose one word to describe the experience of last night - and it was exactly that, an experience rather than a concert - I would choose to describe it as cathartic. The struggles of Richard Jamie Oliver, Stuart Richardson, Luke Johnson, Mike Lewis and Lee Gaze have been well documented over the last two years so I won't dwell upon the past, but I can definitely say that this new chapter successfully concluded the last few pages of the previous one.
Stepping inside the roasting room of CF10, the student union bar which unfortunately does not possess air-conditioning, images were raised in my mind of the experiences Jamie must have been through when he completed sweat lodges over the past year, tweeting in January that he 'attended [his] second sweat lodge last night. Almost 5 hours. Pretty hammered today. mind and body are in shock. There's a lot of space inside.', I agreed with his sentiments completely. I know the sweltering environment of CF10 must have been nowhere near as trialing as the ritualistic sweat lodge, but as I have never experienced one, I can only imagine that they help with the purging of emotions as well as last night did for me. I have been struggling with the loss of my old favourite band; coming to terms with never again seeing them live after witnessing their final performance in Newport in November 2012, but last night really assisted with giving me the closure I have been seeking.
No Devotion are explosive.
No Devotion are inspiring.
No Devotion are here.And now so many people know it. The room was filled with members of other Welsh rock bands who have publicly proclaimed their sadness at the loss of a band that inspired them and shaped their careers in a way that would otherwise have been impossible. Wandering between the likes of Aled Phillips, Sean Smith, Neil Starr and Kris Richards, among many others from their respective bands, I was both star-struck and warmed inside by the support that they were displaying for their fellow comrades and friends.
I really didn't know what to expect before last night. No Devotion have currently only released two songs; 'Stay' and 'Eyeshadow' which are at completely different ends of the spectrum, 'Stay' touching upon more dance and pop influences with 'Eyeshadow' being brooding and dark, so I had no previous expectations of how the rest of the set would shape up. Furthermore, I had never experienced a Thursday live show, so I wasn't anticipating how energetic and charismatic vocalist Geoff Rickly's stage personality would be.
Kicking off with unknown new song 'Night Drive' was a stroke of genius, in my opinion. It was heavy; not in a negative way, in an dynamic and unusual sense. When so many new bands on the scene are going down the pop-punk route (this years ones to watch being Neck Deep, 5 Seconds of Summer and Real Friends who all fit into that genre) it's refreshing to hear songs that could easily break into the mainstream featuring heavier guitars and a drum beat that smacks deep into your very soul. Following with 'Eyeshadow' the crowd was automatically hooked and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that this was not a band that had been formed half-heartedly; this is a fully grown phoenix rising from the ashes in a much more spectacular form.
It was so difficult to believe that it was their first gig. I know that all of the members have been touring in their respective bands for over 10 years so they have the experience under their belts, but I still expected there to be some kinks that hadn't been fully perfected. This was not the case.
Running through new tunes 'Addition' and 'I Want To Be Your God', the moment of the night for me was definitely new song 'Ten Thousand Summers'. With lyrics such as 'ten thousands summers [...] lost, since you went away, ten thousand summers in the grass, this will pass' it really does seem that No Devotion are not focused upon heartbreak and loss, as many had assumed due to the circumstances surrounding their formation and the story encircling the lyrical content of first song 'Stay', but are more focused upon getting through those difficulties. This is a band that wants their fans to know that they are unstoppable, meaning that the fans are unstoppable too. This is a band who have only got one show under their belt (followed by the other three gigs this week) but already have such a strong message and such an inspirational force that they are breathtaking.
Geoff proclaimed that they would be releasing another two songs before a full album next year, with the B-side of 'Ten Thousand Summers' being 'The Only Thing' which is similar to the previous songs but has its own individual merit as well. These are not transient songs. The soaring melodies and the strong, empowering lyrics and vocals make me think that these boys are soon going to be elevated back to the arena heights that plummeted from. With essences of Deftones mixed with U2 and The Killers the mix can only be the recipe for success and longevity, which I really hope to see happen in this case.
There was not a dry eye in the house when Geoff announced that he was 'gonna step out for a minute and let these guys do their thing' before 'Death Rattle', stating 'this is a song about incredible heartbreak and fucking loss' and, let me tell you, those two or three minutes of instrumental thrashing said so much more about their past and their pain than any interviews, than any words. Lyrics could not do justice to the emotions that they were expressing to us and I am going to be eternally grateful to have experienced that purge, as it struck a chord deep within me.
Following this with 'Stay', already a Number One hit for the band in Belarus, Geoff reiterated the story that was heard many times immediately following the release - that his long term relationship ended so he wrote this song, eventually sending it to her. Well, he told us last night that she was there with him, which I think is the perfect end to a beautiful beginning of a band. Without that break-up, no matter how temporary, No Devotion might be the monster that it is so quickly becoming, but I'm so glad Geoff got his happy ending. Everyone in attendance last night must have agreed, because the cheering and clapping was louder after that announcement than throughout the rest of the evening (not discrediting the audience reaction throughout the rest of the gig, which was superb). 'Stay' invoked an entire crowd sing-along and this is a song that I'm sure will be around on their setlists for years to come, both for the nostalgia value of being their first single but also because I don't think fans are going to let this song be forgotten. Compared to the back catalogue of all members it's more pop-centric but this is so far removed from a criticism; I think it's a skill to be able to create a pop-rock song that both appeals to the mainstream and doesn't alienate the expectations of the fans that were waiting with bated breath following the announcement of the new band on the 24th of April earlier this year.
Finishing off with 'Grand Central Station' Geoff announced 'we're finishing there, but don't think it's because we're done. We're only just getting started'.
No Devotion have arrived, and they are here to stay.
I Want To Be Your God
The Only Thing
Grand Central Station