With their debut album out the four piece Anglo- Australian group are embarking on a series of shows through Ireland, the UK and Europe. They are no strangers to these shores having toured last year with Imagine Dragons.
Tonight’s Academy show is a big step up from last year’s headliner in Whelan’s. For a Tuesday night the room is filling up nicely if slightly lop-sidedly as the crowd gravitates towards the keyboard and mic setup of lead singer Rory Williams. The bravado of booking a venue twice the size pays off as there are definitely more here than would fill Whelan’s. The payoff from our perspective is that there is room to move and it feels far more comfortable than it would with this many in a smaller venue.
It’s an early start as Sunset Sons open with ‘Know My Name’. It is the same song that kicks off the knowingly titled album, Very Rarely Say Die. There’s no chat for the first few songs, just the tunes, but during ‘Tick Tock’ Rory takes up the mic stand and dances away from his keyboard, his hulking frame leaning over the edge of the stage.
Their similarity on record to Kings Of Leon is mirrored both by Rory’s long hair/ beard combo and by aloof guitarist Rob Windram in his short sleeves plaid shirt. Bassist Pete Harper looks the prototypical Aussie surf dude with his curly blonde mop, barely-there ‘tache, and cut off denim jacket with patches. Drummer Jed Laidlaw gives off more of a Chad Smith vibe beneath his porkpie hat.
There’s some banter from the crowd and someone asks Rory if he is going to (famous nightclub/ meatmarket) Coppers after the gig. Rory cracks up after that and giggles his way through the opening of ‘She Wants’. Pete said that they couldn’t hear themselves over the crowd in Belfast. It’s not quite as loud here tonight but the young crowd are lapping it up, especially during the big rock out jam at the end of ‘Somewhere Maybe’.
Sunset Sons play harder live than on record and are particularly fond of their rocking codas and reprises. They know how to write an immediately catchy tune too. The new album tracks sound instantly familiar. Rory sounds even more like a young Caleb Followill, but more coherent.
The Coppers-bound girl continues asking questions between songs. When Rory calls her out on it she says that “My mum wants a photograph.” Rory responds immediately, “She got one last night!” drawing a round of applause for his quick wit, that most treasured of characteristics in Ireland. “I’d invite you up on stage but it might be the worst decision I’ve ever made.” Rory has the last word and, still buzzing from the exchanges, he giggles his way through the intro to ‘Lost Company’.
They finish the main set with ‘Remember’ and leave for the encore. “You know how this works, it’s all pantomime” the frontman teases as they head off the stage. Yet still we scream when Rory returns for a solo run. I imagine they will hear a lot more of that on their upcoming tour. This is the kind of music that will go down well in the arenas and stadia for which Sunset Sons seem destined. Catch them up close and personal while you still can. This is proper guitar pop played with verve and panache. Bonzer!
1 April EXETER Exeter Phoenix
2 April FALMOUTH Princess Pavilion
3 April CARDIFF Y Plas
4 April BRIGHTON Concorde 2
6 April LONDON Koko (SOLD OUT)
8 April BOURNEMOUTH 02 Academy
9 BRISTOL 02 Academy