Japandroids – Live

Upstairs at The Garage – 29/05/2012
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Japandroids Live Upstairs at The GarageJapandroids played the final gig of the UK tour Upstairs at The Garage, and what a gig it was. In support of the impending release of their second album ‘Celebration Rock’, to say the band, and the crowd were up for it would be an understatement.

Japandroids hail from Vancouver and comprise Brian King on vocal/guitar and David Prowse on vocal/drums. As a two piece there is a lot of work to be done to make the noise they do. Both are hugely talented and inventive musicians, and their first album, 2009’s ‘Post-Nothing’ is testament to this.

I got to the Garage to see the final few tracks of support act Cadence Weapon, a Canadian rapper who has been with Japandroids for the whole tour. It struck me as an odd choice for a rapper to open up for a Punk band (or at least in the UK), but by the end of his hugely energetic set he had whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

Japandroids arrived on stage to tune up and after some banter with the sound technician they actually looked disappointed that they had to wait for their stage time, and had to go off and kill five minutes. When they reappeared King started as he meant to go on, telling the crowd in no uncertain terms that they were going to give it all they had for the final gig, and they expected that the crowd would do the same. For the purpose of this review I’ve saved you the profanity, except to say King was very excited!

The first track is the opener from their debut album, ‘The Boys Are Leaving Town’. Even on hearing the opening riff the crowd were jumping around like it was the encore. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd as up for it this early into a gig. From thereon in we’re treated to ‘Adrenaline Nightshift’, ‘Younger Us’ and ‘Fire’s Highway’ from the new record, Celebration Rock. The album hasn’t even been released yet and the crowd already know all of the words. Japandroids have an incredibly hardcore fanbase, and every word is sung back to the band like it’s already an anthem.

‘Rockers East Vancouver’ takes the gig to the next level. This is a huge fan favourite. Again, every word is sung, and I have to admit feeling a little inadequate in terms of my Japandroids fandom. I really should have brushed up on the lyrics before coming tonight.

From here we have a mixture of old and new tracks, but there is never an apathetic moment; it’s full on. ‘The Nights of Wine and Roses” is another new track, but with a huge ‘Oooh’ line in the chorus which everyone is the room seems to sing. This tiny venue is in full voice tonight. A few tracks later ‘Darkness on the Edge of Gastown’ takes the tempo down slightly as King showcases his Springsteen-esque vocal talents. Every word of it strikes a chord with the crowd and they lap it up like it’s a modern day classic.

On ‘Sovereignty’ one of the crowd actually jumps on stage to sing with the band. Kings sings the first part and then leaves him to finish the track while he climbs on top of the bass drum to play it out. The crowd go insane. During the instrumental break the guy remains on stage dancing with the band. It was one of the best, most impromptu things I’ve ever seen at a live show. The guy was literally part of the band, and no doubt fulfilling a dream to sing with/for Japandroids. He actually did a fantastic job, and the crowd cheered insanely when the track ended. The band clearly loved it too. Embarrassed to rejoin the crowd he shouts, ’That’s my jam!’ and the crowd erupt again.

Japandroids end the show with a cover of The Gun Clubs’ ‘For The Love of Ivy’, and it’s clear they have given us all they had. After playing their entire repertoire over the 90 minute set they look fit to drop. The crowd files out visibly drained having witnessed a show that literally shook the venue. It’s not very often you get to see a band who play a gig like it’s their last, and even more rare to see a crowd respond in the way they did tonight. Having seen Japandriods live it’s very easy to see why their fans are so loyal, and so up for a party whenever they play. It’s how all live shows should be. I’m sure as they notch up more albums their shows will get better and better.

Set List:

The Boys Are Leaving Town
Adrenaline Nightshift
Younger Us
Fire’s Highway
Rockers East Vancouver
The Nights of Wine and Roses
Wet Hair
Evil’s Sway
The House That Heaven Built
Heart Sweats
Darkness on the Edge of Gastown
Crazy/Forever
Sovereignty
Young Hearts Spark Fire
For the Love of Ivy

Japandroids second album ‘Celebration Rock’ is scheduled to be released on 5th June 2012.

Mike Conyard

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