The Heartbreaks are a band who know how to look after you. When I arrived at the Bodega in Nottingham last night, I found drummer Joe Kondras and lead guitarist Ryan Wallace telling staff how important it was they let me in. Great start, boys.
The Heartbreaks are the first band I ever fell in love with and they’re still my favourite today. They’re full of spirit, fierce attitude and magnificent melodies. It’s a surprise these boys aren’t more well known in today’s world, where fighting talk is something we all need just to get through the day.
The night began with support from Bitter Strings, who were recommended to me by local singer-songwriter Josh Kemp. Bitter Strings sounded as good as they looked with sharp suits and sharp stares, setting the stage well with their own lights. Everyone in the room knew exactly who they were.
Leading man Ben McConnachie kept awkward silences at bay by refering to guitarist Richie Stainsby when he had to change instruments: “Tell them about our t-shirts!” Luckily, Richie was quick to respond and immediately went into a 2-minute soliloquy about the quality of Bitter Strings’ merchandise.
Bitter Strings are a promising rock and roll band with the attitude to match; they’ve perfected their image and their music isn’t bad, either. Make sure you check out their latest EP Honey Don’t Lie
The Heartbreaks then took to the stage with ‘Paint The Town Beige’, the first song from their album We May Yet Stand A Chance. This was fiercely followed by ‘This Is Not Entertainment’, giving a chance for The Heartbreaks to play loud “politically charged pop” and grabbing the attention of everyone in the room.
‘Hey, Hey Lover’ was next, which Matthew introduced as “a song about a horse who really loves to eat.” It was only the third track of the night but the boys had already captured the attention of the girls in the front row; two of them seemed determined to pull Matthew and Deaks off stage. With a swift step back and a friendly smile, the boys played on and won the hearts of many this evening.
“It’s a Friday night, Nottingham! Are you ready to party?” singer Matthew Whitehouse barely waited for a response before adding: “Good! Because we’ve got a mid-tempo ballad for you!” This earned giggles from the rest of the band as they began ‘Bittersweet’, a mellow track that’s about as rock and roll as a luke-warm cup of tea. It might not be a great one for dancing, but ‘Bittersweet’ is still a fan favourite; the crowd cheered in response to its soft melodies and deep, expressive vocals.
‘Polly’ and ‘Delay, Delay’ are two of the biggest hits from The Heartbreaks, so it came as no suprise when the crowd danced manically to their favourite songs. I fell in love with these tracks over two years ago and they still hold that same passion today.
‘Absolved’ saw the start of a stage invasion from two very enthusiastic fans. The Heartbreaks looked bemused at the sudden intrusion and their tech guy quickly removed the two girls from stage. The show was already 15 minutes past curfew but the band pleaded with the venue to play one last song, ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You.’ This song is traditionally the boys’ final track, infused with Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, giving the night the finale it deserves.
Funtimes and We May Yet Stand A Chance are two very different albums describing a journey through adolescence, including all of the gritty details of losing faith in your society and finding it again within yourself. If you want decent, honest music, The Heartbreaks will always be there for you.
Relationships between bands and the people who admire them is an important factor in the music industry these days; social media has become a vital tool for musicians to promote their music and communicate with their fans at all hours of the day. Gigs are just the same, and I learned one very important thing last night: the fans are proud of The Heartbreaks and, quite rightly, The Heartbreaks are proud of their fans.