Live Review: The Crookes and High Hazels at Bodega, Nottingham, 15th April 2014.

With the release of their third album only a day before, Sheffield heroes The Crookes immediately set out on a mammoth 6 week tour intending to showcase Soapbox across the UK and Europe. For the UK length of the trip, The Crookes are joined by High Hazels, another young Sheffield band that show serious promise with their musical endeavours.

The first stop on the tour was at The Bodega in Nottingham. This venue is an old favourite of mine and it has seen some spectacular nights over the years. The old stairs lead you to a small, yet welcoming, space, complete with atmospheric lighting and a decent stage. The music may have grown but the venue remains the same and it’s easy to find comfort in that.

This night was also a significant moment for the supporting act: the High Hazels have never before embarked on a UK tour but they were excited about the prospect of getting their songs heard beyond the Sheffield border.

It was soon time for High Hazels to take to the stage, full of energy to get the Nottingham crowd in the right mood for an memorable evening. Opening with their latest single, ‘Summer Rain’, the boys introduced themselves with a calm sincerity that would melt even the coldest of hearts. The words “haunted by a place I’ve never been” created poignancy within the beautiful melodies, creating the signature style that High Hazels are becoming well-known for.

Their second song, ‘French Rue’, drew a more serious tone, but lead singer James kept the audience happy with his cheerful smile and relaxed demeanour. The final song of their set, Valencia, proved to be the most popular, leaving the crowd wanting more as the performance drew to a close.

The Crookes began with a bold performance of ‘Play Dumb’, the first single from recently released Soapbox. Lead singer George Waite centred the stage with confidence, dressed smartly in a suit which he soon came to regret as the night grew warmer.

Mixing up the setlist with old favourites and new wonders, The Crookes managed to keep the audience hooked. One punter immediately bought the Soapbox LP after hearing ‘Howl’ for the first time – clearly that’s the song to look out for on the boys’ latest accomplishment.

Of their newest songs, ‘Before The Night Falls’ seemed perfectly suited to the night, with its fierce energy and epic guitar solo keeping spirits high. ‘Echolalia’ also proved to be a highlight of the evening, as the band seemed to thoroughly enjoy playing it to the receptive crowd.

George kept the audience engaged with cheerful chatter between songs, asking about their clicking abilities and challenging a particular punter about his knowledge on Sheffield. These boys were making friends tonight.

The final surprise of the evening was the encore; the crowd was clapping and chanting before two of the boys returned to the stage, only for the band’s guitarist/songwriter Daniel Hopewell to shout “you’re going the wrong way!” The intention was evident: The Crookes were to perform one final song in the centre of the crowd. There’s no need for stages and microphones when you’re surrounded by your fans, singing ‘The Cooler King’ the way it was meant to be sung: with whistles and cheers from the people, creating the welcoming atmosphere that every gig needs.

With tour dates running throughout April, you’ve no excuse to miss these bright young bands. The combination of sincere gratitude and spectacular talent creates a welcoming atmosphere that you’ll hold dear for many nights afterward.

Summer Rain
French Rue
Loneliness Inn
Hearts are Breaking

Play Dumb
Don’t Put Your Faith in Me
Chorus of Fools
Maybe in the Dark
Yes, Yes, We’re Magicians
Before The Night Falls
Bear’s Blood
The I Love You Bridge
Where Did Our Love Go?
Backstreet Lovers

18th April – GLASGOW King Tut’s
19th April – HULL The Adelphi
22nd April – MANCHESTER Sound Control
23rd April – BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds
24th April – STOKE Sugarmill
25th April – LEICESTER Soundhouse
26th April – SOUTHAMPTON Lennons
27th April – BRISTOL Thekla
28th April – BRIGHTON The Hope
29th April – LONDON CAMDEN Dingwalls

31st May – SHEFFIELD Leadmill w/ High Hazels and The Charlestones

2nd May – PARIS La Fleche D’Or
3rd May – UTRECHT Ekko
4th May – EINDHOVEN Effenaar
5th May – GHENT Video
7th May – COLOGNE Studio 672
8th May – HAMBURG Club Molotow
9th May – COPENHAGEN Loppen
11th May – BERLIN Comet
12th May – MUNICH The Atomic Cafe
13th May – VIENNA Chelsea
15th May – TREVISO Home
16th May – BOLOGNA Locomotiv
17th May – MILAN Rocket
18th May – MANTOVA Tresor
20th May – ZURICH Exil
21st May – LAUSANNE Bleu Lezard
22nd May – LILLE La Peniche
23rd May – AMSTERDAM Paradiso


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