The Sunflower Lounge
Review by Ian Paget
Launching their debut EP ‘Keep It A Secret’ at the Sunflower Lounge tonight, there’s a decent turnout to witness The Nu’s blend of anthemic indie, synth-based pop and big meaty riffs first-hand. Right from the beginning, ‘Natural Monsters’ provides a high-energy introduction to the band with huge singalong hooks and soaring guitars. On ‘Temporary’, frontman Darius Zaltash’s vocals come to the forefront, with a confident impressive sound reminiscent of We Are Scientists’ Keith Murray. During a silent pause in the song, Darius stops to crack open a can of beer in front of the microphone, stating “I’ve always wanted to do that!” before continuing the song.
Synth-heavy track ‘The Hardest Part’ comes closest to replicating the electronic sound of the EP recordings, but in the live setting there’s an undoubtedly heavier rock sound in play and the metal guitars of a short instrumental dubbed ‘The Riff’ encourage plenty of moshing at the front of the stage. Plus, if you’re going to look the part with a 7-string bass you’ve got to do it justice, right?
‘The Homestretch’ goes right over to the quieter end of the spectrum, with Darius performing the first half solo as his bandmates congregate together at the back of the stage and sing along, but it’s the massive-sounding finale of ‘This Is Why We Do It’ that brings it all together with danceable beats and a final surge of power, complete with a section for the whole room to sing back to and an unexpected rap from the band’s keyboardist. There’s such a response for an encore that despite having no songs left, the band perform one last run-through of ‘The Riff’ and prove themselves to be a formidable live act worth becoming invested in.
With their name literally up on stage in lights and an opening gambit of “our name is M A R C and we are a fucking rock ‘n’ roll band”, it’s almost poetic that the most rock ‘n’ roll thing possible – the dreaded Technical Difficulties™ – should happen at the most inopportune moment. But like all good rock ‘n’ roll bands, M A R C quickly shake off their false start and proceed to blow the socks off the Sunflower Lounge with big sleazy guitar riffs and stomping beats. Opener ‘Make Me Smile’ takes a no-nonsense approach with a sound somewhere between The Amazons and The Black Keys, complete with sweet melodies and bombastic swagger which quickly has much of the crowd dancing – even attracting an ill-advised attempt at a crowdsurf during the slower track ‘Time’.
The set’s over too quickly, but not before cramming in highlight ‘Shock Fantasy’, multiple stage invasions, a bit of Wolves-related banter and the retro-inspired finale of ‘Much Too Much’. Turns out M A R C totally live up to their opening statement tonight and tick all the right rock ‘n’ roll boxes.
Despite being first on, Birmingham trio Echo Gecco have the benefit of a large crowd who are more than ready to get involved, starting a moshpit early on to the visible delight of singer/guitarist Josh. The band play a mix of classic rock, funk and psychedelic/prog arrangements but with a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun which eases the audience in to the set.
With huge-sounding drums and Josh’s soaring Chris Cornell-esque vocals, the band perform excellently, and when after getting the crowd to scream back at him Josh manages to persuade them to sit down on the venue floor, he’s almost knocked off guard with laughter. The rest of the set feels like one big party, and Echo Gecco make the ideal start to tonight’s schedule.