Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), Brighton 17/11/2012

I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks and I kind of have an excuse for that. In fact the last thing I posted was an interview with Keith from Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) and if you haven’t already read that then do it now by clicking HERE. Back to the excuse, I’ve been sent a few things for review and this usually takes me some time to get through because I like to listen to something several times before I write about it. I have had the intention to get on and do this but all I’ve been wanting to listen to for the last few weeks has been Empire! Empire! The fact that I was about to go and see the band for the first time had got me just a little bit excited so I decided to sod everything else off and just indulge myself in their back catalogue until the time for the gig came.

I love Brighton, it’s an awesome city and always a great place to see a show. Plus my brother lives there so I can park for free which is a massive bonus. My good friend Paul and I made the 2 hour drive from Thanet down on a chilly and overcast Saturday evening in November and before long we were walking round like a pair of lost tourists trying to seek the venue out. The Green Door Store, as its name suggests, can be identified by its green door, with our combined brain power we worked this out and ventured in to the venue. The signs that this was going to be a great night were already there as soon as we entered as we took an instant liking to the place. It’s a charming venue situated underneath Brighton train station and we got there early so we could see every band on the five band bill.

First up were Summerslam 88, their lively pop punk seemed to go down really well with the early attendees which included the singers mum. My mum never came to any of my gigs, mainly because I never told her when we were playing. She would only have slagged it all off anyway, the guy from Summerslam 88’s mum seemed to really enjoy their set which was nice to see. Second on the bill were Me and Goliath who were extremely impressive, their short set of emotional hardcore reminded me of seeing Suis La Lune the first time. And they were loud, so loud that at one point during a wall of noise in the their last song I even had to take my coat off for fear of passing out. Any more of that and I’d be saying “Woah there fellas!”, luckily it didn’t come to that. Seriously though, I would love to see these guys play again and hopefully will one day. Then it was the turn of Gnarwolves. Judging by onstage banter and crowd reaction I was possibly the only person in the room to have never seen Gnarwolves before. I had read about them though and seen their name all over the place, I now know that this is due to the fact they can write pop punk songs with the best of them and cut it live too. I really liked seeing the crowd swell in size and voice during their set, they did an incredible job of warming everyone up for what was about to come.

Then it was time for The Reptilian to take things to the next level. I took my place at the front and expectations were high due in part to Tommy Royds from the great Zine and not heard, who I’d just met for the first time in the bar, telling me just how awesome they had been a couple of nights previous in London. And he was right. They won the crowd over instantly with their energy, off kilter rhythms and mind-blowing fret tapping. However good I get at the guitar I’ll never be as good as the guy from The Reptilian at fret tapping, I’ve made my peace with this now and can appreciate just how awe inspiringly good he was. The whole band played as tight as any band you’re likely to see and this topped by the fact that they have some really kick arse songs made their set memorable for all the right reasons.

Finally, it was Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)’s turn to play. This was their last night of a 2 week tour of the UK and Ireland and there seemed to be a real party atmosphere in the air as they played through their set. They seemed to be genuinely touched by the response they had gotten over here and repaid us with a set full of some of their best songs. The sound was incredible too all the way through their set, from the sweet interlocking guitars at the start of ‘Turbo Stasis’ to the massive full band rock of ‘Keep what you have built up here’. That second song I mention there whipped the crowd in to a frenzy of vocals and pointed fingers which reminded me of why I love going to see bands play so much. I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say this again, I feel so lucky that there are bands like E!E!(IWALE) out there right now playing this sort of music to crowds full of like-minded people. I wouldn’t have believed it possible 7 or 8 years ago when I’d become so jaded that I was starting to think that music was a write off. I can now go and see of my current favourite emo bands and there is a brilliant turn out, amazing atmosphere and a real energy about the scene. This makes me so happy which kind of takes away from the misery of liking emo music but , oh well, I’m sure I’ll get over that.

And if it isn’t enough that Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) are blowing us away already with their beautiful noise they also come with added extras. Because the band has only 2 permanent members (Keith and Cathy) this means that when touring they need to have back up musicians come with them and when said back up musicians include Warren Franklin then that can only be seen as a massive bonus to us fans. Especially when, during the set, he swaps his bass for a guitar and takes up lead vocal duties as the band play his song ‘You get weary’. Warren Franklin’s voice is incredible, hearing his voice live is a real treat and a definite highlight of the night. This treat then continues when Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) go to play their last song. ‘An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral’, the closing song of their full length lp ‘What it takes to move forward’, has to be one of my favourite Empire! Empire! songs and would be my choice as the perfect song for them to play last. So, as they play through the opening bars of the song I start to get excited. This then escalates when I realise Warren Franklin will be singing the gorgeous backing vocals at the end. It’s every bit as perfect as you can imagine and an awesome way to finish their set and their UK tour as a whole.

It was an unforgettable show, it totally lived up to the massive expectations which I had placed upon it. I hope they go home and tell every other band on the Count your lucky stars roster to get themselves over here asap. Although if they do I can say with some certainty that they won’t be recommending American Airlines as a means of transport. Upon arrival in the UK, Keith discovered his Gibson Les Paul had the headstock snapped even though it was in a flight case marked fragile. Luckily, someone lent him a guitar for the tour and even managed to fix his by the last show. You could see how happy Keith was to be playing on his own guitar at last, but this happiness was short-lived because on arrival back in America he found that the same airline had done the same thing to his guitar. There is a lesson here for us all. American Airlines don’t seem to be forthcoming with any sort of apology or compensation so please join the many others already doing so and hassle them on every social media outlet until they agree to do something about it.

Me with Keith and Cathy

Thanks for reading guys!!!

To stream/download songs by Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) click HERE

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