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Gig Review – The War On Drugs | 8th July 2024, Mountford Hall

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The War on Drugs Gig Liverpool

The first time I really listened to The War On Drugs was last summer. 

A friend had recommended them to me – he’d been listening to TWOD quite a bit after seeing them at Glastonbury and had mentioned their latest album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore. I also remember him saying that he thought I’d like the track ‘Harmonia’s Dream’. And he was absolutely right – it was, and probably still is, one of my favourites off the album and I had it on repeat for about two weeks. (Thanks Josh!!)

At this point, I have a confession to make; I didn’t instantly fall in love with TWOD and their whole discography. The truth is, I liked a couple of tracks from I Don’t Live Here Anymore but wasn’t sure about some of their earlier stuff, and it took me a couple of goes to really see (or hear) what they were going for. That being said, having seen them live, I’m more than happy to admit that I was completely wrong. 

Studio recordings really don’t capture the live experience. They couldn’t even if they wanted to. I know this sounds quite obvious, and I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, so bear with me. It’s just difficult to express how much this rings true for TWOD – the difference is huge. They both need and deserve the acoustics of gig venues, a crowd chanting their riffs back at them and a floor to feel the bassline through.

I think the best example of this last night was when they played ‘Under The Pressure’. If you’re thinking of going to see TWOD and are looking forward to this song in particular, no matter how good you might think it’ll be, trust me… it’s better. Before the gig, I’d watched countless videos of this track, taken from live sessions and even the Glastonbury set my friend might have been at, and had quickly jotted it down in my notes for this review as a track that might be worth mentioning.

It was unbelievable. 

Now, I know it’s quite literally my job to describe this gig to you, so I’ll try my best, but I still don’t think I can do it justice. After the second verse, you get lost in almost two minutes of hypnotic synths and build. And then the drop happens – a surreal, euphoric moment as the drums kick back in, everyone around you starts jumping and you’re reminded why live music is just the best. If you couldn’t already tell, this was my favourite track of the night. 

Another standout was, of course, ‘Harmonia’s Dream’. After walking out onto stage, Adam Granduciel (vocals, guitar) let us know that the band was going to play some songs that weren’t on their regular setlist. I’d just had a conversation about how The National had done an entire set of deep cuts the last time a friend had seen them, so this did not bode well for those of us who were looking forward to hearing at least one track from the most recent TWOD record, never mind one that was nominated for a Grammy. But a few songs later, the steady drumbeat that defines both the track and album in question started chugging along and was met with a huge cheer from the Liverpool crowd. 

I also want to quickly mention ‘Change’. Alongside ‘Harmonia’s Dream’ and ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’, this is a track that, to me, encapsulates TWOD perfectly – atmospheric, hyphenated rock with jangly guitars, skippy drums and, in this case, a gorgeous piano outro. 

In conclusion, TWOD are a group of talented musicians with a penchant for extended instrumentals who just seem to be having the best time on stage. One of my favourite moments of the gig was during ‘Strangest Thing’, when the bassist had his head tilted back and eyes closed, just enjoying his music like the rest of us.

It’s no surprise that the original date at Mountford Hall sold out so quickly that they had to add another. 

And it’s clear that rock bands with a classic sound and varied instrumentation are not going anywhere anytime soon – something my Dad, with his love of 70s music, long trance-like instrumentals and guitar solos, will be very happy to hear.

 

Review by: Ayla Hewitt

Images credit: Ayla Hewitt

Follow Ayla on Insta@aylagoestogigs   @aylaratesalbums  

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