Alter The Press!


Live Review: We Are The Ocean - Bush Hall, London (18/08/11)

Sitting just a stones throw away from the stunning Shepherds Bush Empire, Bush Hall is certainly a more quaint setting for tonight’s show, however for what it lacks in grandeur it certainly makes up for in eloquence. With its ornate chandlers hanging from the high ceiling and intricate woodwork layering the walls – that have heard their fair share of great acts over the years – you begin to realise why We Are The Ocean chose it as the venue for their debut acoustic show. And as the crowd took their seats - soaking in the dramatic surroundings - anticipation built for a show that was clearly going to be a completely new experience for both band and crowd alike.

Having spent too much time in Nandos next door they arrived on stage a lot later than billed, but to WATO’s credit there was no messing around getting straight into tonight’s set. A rather tentative start to ‘Lucky Ones’ began the night’s proceedings, but as expected things picked up into ‘What It Feels Like’ as the band settled into the set and got themselves used to having a seated crowd. Something that can’t be easy when you spend the rest of the year touring in front of mosh pits, - it’s harder to read a seated crowd with an obvious lack of movement, however the singing soon eased everyone into the show.

It’s definitely a bold move to strip your sound down – especially for a band like We Are The Ocean – swapping brutal riffs for an acoustic arrangement is certainly not an easy task. For tonight Dan Brown's throaty screams became husky whispers – which at points lose their place in the room and question how well their post hardcore pedigree can translate. In contrast Liam Cromby’s clean vocals were given a chance to really shine, soon becoming the most impressive thing on display this evening. ‘This Is Called My Home’ forms a poignant highlight, while ‘Overtime Is A Crime’ demonstrates the work they have put into making this acoustic set work, its country approach - however surprising - breaks this thrashy track down well. Before a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Sliver’ somehow makes it’s way into the set, and the less said about this the better. After what can only be described as a glitch in proceedings things were brought back on track with ‘Now And Then’.

As Liam moved over to a keyboard it was ‘Confessions’ which soon stole the show, its Stevie Wonder keys and soulful delivery, transforming Bush Hall into what suddenly felt like a smoking lounge. To bring an end to the show ‘The Waiting Room’ kicks in, after the band suddenly announce that the show will become a live CD. Unsurprisingly the already very vocal crowd stepped things up a notch while they all battled to hear their own voices in the hope of making their way onto the release. Without doubt this was a successful and confident display from the Essex lads, however with this being their debut unplugged set things did take time to really fit into place, and for the room to feel completely comfortable in its obscure surroundings.

They answered the question of whether they could undertake the task, however some tracks clearly stand out while others seem to just pass by with little to really offer. The question will always be whether these tracks can stand alone unplugged, and while some shone out others felt a little uninspired. It was the moments that brought in blues and country influences and dabbled with real experimentation that brought highlights, however it feels like not every track was giving the same treatment. For this to really step up to the next level these lads should be using ‘Confessions’ and ‘Overtime Is A Crime’ for benchmarks of what really makes an acoustic rendition, a track of its own.

Connor O’Brien

Alter The Press!