Live Review: The Hunna / Sick Joy – Middlesbrough Empire, Middlesbrough 03.10.2023

Craig Young

Greeted by a queue that snaked around the corner I misjudged the local love for these indie rockers. Having not been hugely exposed to their music when I saw the gig was at The Empire I had to turn up. It’s damn near 20 years since I stepped foot inside this venue and a smile was brought back to my face when I noticed little had changed. Its ornate and intricate which was a counterpoint to tonight’s gig that was a raw and powerful emotive force.

Middlesbrough Empire has been many things over its life span but its current carnation of nightclub/gig venue is a particularly popular one with a crowd of a younger age. Shown by the packed crowd. Being freshly exposed to their music, although I was aware of their hit ‘She’s Casual’ with its emphatic pop-injected chorus and the strained vocals from singer Ryan Potter, that their unique sound hangs on.

Sick Joy slipped on the stage quietly content to let their music do the talking. Something they carried on throughout the gig With little banter from this duo. It was real meat and potatoes indie rock done with a punk spirit that soon reverberated back from the crowd after a couple of tracks had been blasted out to them. The audience warmed to them over their set, they had well deserved send off and no doubt picked up a few new fans tonight also. A perfect choice as support for the main act.

From the first song, the enthusiastic crowd were singing at the top of their voices, clearly much love to the Hunna from Middlesbrough tonight. A couple of tracks in and Potter loses the guitar and the whole energy is taken up a notch as he flung himself across the expansive stage, injecting some seriously high level energy as whipped the crowd up, not that they needed it.

Lead guitarist Dan Dorney kept things quiet adding touches of colour as he roved up and down the stage as the bands solid back line of bassist Junate Angin, and drummer Jack Metcalfe, who has a Teesside heritage, kept things rampaging on.

‘Lover’ was performed by Ryan Potter on his own and the phones came out and the crowd packed the floor even more so to witness this tender ballad which clearly meant a lot to a few folk/couples in the crowd. They used the massive stage well looking at home, not surprising after the cracking festival sets they have delivered to delighted fans.

Making a note that they had been going on for 10 years and dedicating that time to the crowd who have supported them throughout making their career as a band possible. It almost seemed like a greatest hits tour with tracks being picked from right across their 4 previous albums as well as their forthcoming new one. They put on a great set tonight that was perfectly arranged to keep the crowd on a high right till the end. Ending on the electric punk thrasher ‘Trash’ the baying of one more song kicked off and the band returned to close on ‘Untouched Hearts’. All in all, tonight was a brilliant success and proof that The Hunna are one of the most exciting live acts currently thrilling audiences around the country.

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