Written by Octavia Graham
“Noswaith dda Caerdydd” echoed through a sold-out Motorpoint arena as The Amazons began the unmistakable riff to ‘In My Mind’; kicking off what would be an evening filled to the brim with some of the best rock music there is today. Before the band stepped out onto the iconic stage, anticipation built through the ever-growing crowd. So much so, I could almost feel the hairs raising on my arms. I had arrived reasonably early to the venue, determined to have a good view (although eventually I still did wind up behind an average-height person who dwarfed me by two) … a decision well-made, as only five minutes later I was boxed in by the rows and rows of a crowd ready to see Royal Blood’s Typhoons tour. All waiting for Special Guests The Amazons to smash open the evening, back in the Welsh capital for the first time since covid.
Forming in 2014, the four-piece have earned their way to the stages they are playing today, with their hard-hitting guitar riffs, catchy melodies and lyricism which wonderfully encompasses the essence of the music itself. There have been many concerts before where the opening act doesn’t live up to the headline, but not with The Amazons. Having had the opportunity to see them live in 2019, I was excited for what they would bring three years later – and let me say they did not disappoint! The show both bands delivered on the night felt more equal to seeing two headlining acts, with the level of songwriting, audience consideration and professional, at ease stage presence.
The beauty in being able to see live music is the slight alterations made to a song that you can experience outside of the studio version. An aspect used well before the introduction of ‘Mother’, rhythmically repeating a short phrase that kept the crowd on their toes before entering the powerful motif – that just sticks in your head if you’re like me. The opening lyrics “friends want to kill me” lingering in my mind for its both blunt literalism paired with the space for multiple interpretations. For me, satisfying my inner self which craves to be that dramatic anytime friends, or people I had cared for, set out to hurt me.
But oh, when ‘Bloodrush’ kicked in. A single they released only three days before the performance and was played fantastically live. Written mid lockdown, instead of reflecting the worst of times we have all been living in, it was written for “the light at the end of the tunnel”. A feeling felt by many over the past two years, a song which was incredibly relevant to the context of the night. As Matt Thomson said: “This is the light at the tunnel”. The very performance we were all a part of that night, the very something hoped for through the worst of the pandemic. Those moments, where standing in a crowd felt like a distant memory, in an alternate reality. But now it is something which we are able to experience again. The blood rush of live music washing over us, the feeling of standing on stage, the adrenaline rush and the human interaction that is once again possible. “It’s about time we let the Bloodrush in”. I couldn’t agree more.
What an opening single for the new album! What more do they have in store in How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me, their upcoming third album, produced by none other than Jim Abbiss. I’m not usually one to wish away time when summer is approaching, but the show has made me impatient for September 2nd. I wish it was coming sooner. Maybe another single release to fuel the wait guys–?
Anyway, back to the performance. I always believe that crowd engagement and humour are integral to a great performance. Both of which were achieved every time Matt talked to the audience. Particularly when a list of Welsh vocab came into play, met with cheers and well, sometimes less cheers, in response to pronunciation that I cannot vouch for – although I have been in Wales for three years now. All I can say is that ‘Diolch’ was pronounced pretty well. The Welsh ‘cheers’ “Iechyd da!” (or Yaki Da) seemed to receive a less enthusiastic audience at first (although many of which may not have known the terms too well themselves), but the good humour and joy in raising a water bottle whilst shouting it out to the crowd, is something ingrained in my memory. I can’t speak for everyone, but I appreciated the acknowledgement of the Welsh language and appreciation of being in Wales. Then, tagging the ‘cheers’ along with “it’s tequila I promise…” – a joke familiar to myself as in smaller-scale live music events through Cardiff – gave the sense that regardless of their rising success and profile, the band have not let all that taint their authenticity and personality. Allowing audience members, like myself, to feel represented and connected through not only their music but the people too.
To finish what can only be called a remarkable set, they broke into one of their most well-known tracks: ‘Black Magic’. A sentence that I can back up with the energetic crowd response, the rowdiest whoops of their set as the electric guitars built and built-up momentum, getting the crowd dancing. And their way around the stage! What a finale as the whole band fit in one frame centre stage in the instrumental, with lead guitarist Chris Alderton standing up on the amp. But none seeming too performative, a natural moment between bandmates enjoying the end of a great set on a great tour. A brilliant opening to the headline act Royal Blood, which continued with fantastic songs and skill. Setting off mosh pits so big the whole crowd felt the repercussions, it always amazes me how two people can create such sound. With the beautiful tribute to Taylor Hawkins after the news received about the passing of the Foo Fighters drummer, the day before. Around 5,000 people encapsulated in remembrance of the cheerful drummer who was a positive light to so many. Never forget.