It’s 2010, and a small crowd are gathered in Spitalfields Market awaiting a free show from Darwin Deez. On the stage appear a soul-band from Essex, complete with saxophones and all, doing their best to get the eager crowd going whilst sharing stories about prostitutes and laughing at hecklers.
Fast forward 4 years, and the same band are set to headline London’s Village Underground, with their first show since their 2012 UK Tour on which they rocked a crowd at London’s Shepherd’s Bush following the release of their debut album Tales From the Thames Delta.
As the crowd slowly built up to the sounds of the mediocre Blast Unit Moscow and the rather impressive New Street Adventure, there was a definite buzz throughout the venue. A band that look to keep a community sense throughout everything, a listen to the chatter around makes it sound like they’ve brought their whole hometown with all the Essex accents on show. Between sets, Mat Format flits between a great DJ set, and taking centre stage to try keep the crowd going through a long wait filled with technical difficulties and overpriced 330ml cans of beer. But finally, the band made it to the stage, and they ensured the wait was worth it with a breathtaking performance.
Lead singer Rick Nunn’s vocals were even more impressive live than on record, as the band tore through classics like “B-Roads”, as well as the newer tracks such as the regret-laden “What Did I Do To My Love”. As Nunn urged the crowd to at least ‘Pretend to be from the wrong side of town’ for “Picking Up The Pieces”, the room filled with excitement and whispers about the prospect of Idris Elba running rampant on stage to spit his verse, as he did at their Shepherd’s Bush show. However despite Format’s claims that “Luther himself” was back stage there was no such surprise, it was hardly a negative thing. Replacing Elba’s verse with a soulful interlude, the band created what was possibly the best performance of the night.
Whilst a lot of the crowd’s excitement was understandably for the older, more familiar tracks, the atmosphere was never lost into an awkward haze on the new material. With much of the crowd already acquainted with the tracks thanks to the band’s “TheMilkOnMonday” SoundCloud series, the exuberance of the crowd was carried from the old to the new.
Standing there in the middle of a crowd of sweaty young Essex folk, I realised how lucky I’ve been to watch this band grow. From a man in the middle of Spitalfields Market telling a crowd about his lack of a sex life, to shining on stage with impeccable vocals throughout ‘Favourite Worry’, Nunn has grown into the frontman position well, and he’s got one hell of a band behind him too.By Elliott Ball