States of Emotion: Concert Review!

SOEDecember, 6th, 2012
Sebright Arms, London

Tonight at the Sebright Arms, having a quick drink before States of Emotion play their last show of 2012, Olly Hookings is unusually quiet.  There’s a sense of apprehension in our conversation.  It’s easy to understand why…in a way tonight’s show is the product of an 11 year journey with his best friends.  A journey that in reality is only just beginning.  A sold out Sebright show is the perfect backdrop to bring to a close the formative stages of SOE before 2013 brings a potentially life changing album release on Rinse.  The significance of what next year might bring is clearly not lost and as we discuss the forthcoming album Olly comments that it’s ‘difficult to believe it’s happening when it’s happening to you.’

He’s called away to get ready for the show.  There’s definitely an atmosphere in the Sebright tonight.  Essex accents poke through above the normal East London burble of a full venue.  On and off stage SOE have an engaging presence which is rewarded with a passionate and dedicated following.  Essex, perhaps surprisingly, has a healthy music scene full of great bands.  There’s a sense of community in the way they support each other and tonight is no exception with members of Electric Child House and The Bracknall in attendance.
We get downstairs and through the door just in time to catch the first note.  I look through the crowd to the stage and see four lads that hang so well together that they could be brothers.  In that moment I realise that this could be the first and last time I see States of Emotion play in a venue of this type.  Having shared the stage with them on The Enemy tour in October 2012 this is really the first time I have seen the band play their own show.  Next year is full of promise…this could be a moment we’ll all never forget.
SOE contribute to this feeling by delivering a performance that entirely justifies Rinse taking a step away from their usual artist roster.  You can tell when a band has recently toured; there is a confidence…a welcome self assuredness to them tonight.  The drums, so often lost in a small venue, sound perfect and give Luke, Bonz and Brick the platform to deliver the album with verve.
Each tune takes the show in a new direction; each has its own personality.  Perhaps this is what defines SOE for me. Something that all the tunes share is patience. Experience tells you that every song will deliver a huge chorus but the lads take you there in their own time allowing you to revel in the quality of the verses.
Whilst Luke skilfully drives The Unsung from the back it allows Bonz the freedom to not just toe the line…instead he adds layers of subtle melody.  I catch myself watching closely, seeing how hard he works…he sort of hypnotized me and as I break my focus and rejoin for Olly’s chorus I feel a bit dazed.
And then there’s Brick, its difficult not to put Brick on a pedestal.  He’s some talent and tonight he’s on fire.  The gentle arpeggios and searing lead melodies make ‘The Fold’ a stand out tune on the night.  It’s so complete.
All of which set up Olly perfectly…the melodies in Olly’s vocals are special and he’s giving it to us straight.  An incredible performance.  The top lines grab you, simple but brilliant.  But there’s much much more to it than that.  The songs are so well crafted that each one could be about you…your own life…stuff you’re living with.  And yet there’s a substance, depth and fragility that only comes from having lived it all.  If it sounds like the real world…that’s because it’s his.
The crowd respond to every word, it’s rammed and everyone is soaking it up.  As we’re all caught singing the lyric ‘it’s just the way that I’m wired’ Olly looks up and smiles.  The earlier apprehension has long since left him, I would like to think it’s because he is happy in the knowledge that they couldn’t have bought 2012 to a close in a better way.

For an interview with States of Emotion, click here!

Chris Hamblett aka @villageroads

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