Demob Happy @ Gulliver's
With support from Yonaka
As Demob Happy launched headlong into their fourth song of the evening at Gulliver’s on Friday 4 December, a lady with maybe thirty-odd years of gigging under her khaki parka ambled exultantly through the crowd towards her friend in front of me. Gesticulating hazardously with her pint she cried “This is the best gig I’ve ever been to. The best. Ever. EVER!”
I will forgive this dear woman the soaking of cider that I got as a result of her delighted clamouring because I can sympathise wholeheartedly with her sentiment. Grunge can have the power to provide overwhelming euphoria and an unrivaled feeling of release. Demob Happy have nailed all the best aspects of our beloved genre and come up with something which is both pleasingly familiar and effortlessly original.
One of the things that struck me was how many people knew the lyrics to Demob Happy’s entire album (which has only been out for two months at this point) and were intent on singing along to the whole set. Interestingly lyricist Matt Marcantonio doesn’t pay much attention to his favourite artists’ lyrics, but his listeners connect to his own very strongly. People don’t tend to do that unless the songs are truly great songs, which get inside your head and put into words things that you couldn’t, which Demob Happy does. It helps also that the songs were delivered with an incredibly intense energy that was consistently magnetic from beginning to end.
You can imagine that those people who were singing along would have been listening to the album obsessively since its release and looking forward to the tour, hoping and praying the live show would do it justice. They were not disappointed. Dream Soda is nothing less than a triumph, and the band’s delivery was triumphant and proud.
Not only were the audience glued to every word, the band’s highly charged performance inspired some impressive acts of moshery; a group of lads at the front were hurling themselves at the stage resulting in frontman Marcantonio sustaining a limb to the face (but it’s not grunge unless someone gets hurt, right?).
The set reached peak energy at bass-heavy single Succubus, a glorious anthem of dissatisfaction whose dynamic peaks and troughs were timed to perfection onstage, drawing the audience further and further into the Demob Happy cyclone. After this point the band only let us hang for a moment of breathless anticipation before flinging themselves into song after song.
The members of Demob Happy operated like consummate professionals throughout, gelling without fault with each other and giving their all at every moment. We had caught them in their natural habitat and it was a privilege to behold. Drummer Thomas Armstrong (with all the sex appeal of a young Eddie Vedder and the voice to boot) is the life blood and a commanding presence, while Mathew Renforth and Adam Godfrey, both on guitars, give the band its expansive, blazing sound that makes them so remarkable in 2015. Changes in tempo were navigated with expert skill meaning there was never a moment to get distracted or lose focus on the stage.
Another highlight was Dream Soda, with its irresistible indie singalong chorus, leaving me with one lasting impression from Demob Happy; there are simply no other bands that sound like this around at the moment. And that is so VERY exciting.
You’ve got one last chance to see Demob Happy before the end of the year! They will be at Cluny 2 in Newcastle TOMORROW (that’s December 17) so go, if you know what’s good for you.
Words and photos: Scarlett Pares Landells