Deaf Institute is the busiest I’ve ever seen it on a Thursday, the room crammed with those lucky enough to catch Reading’s hottest indie-rock quartet in the flesh. It’s not just Manchester that’s under the spell of The Amazons. Their entire UK tour was sold out months ago – a blinding feat when you consider they’ve only been together a handful of years.
‘Black Magic’ kicks the night off, hypnotic orange lights swirling behind guitarist Chris Alderton as he frantically shreds away. With Joe Emmett’s thunderous drums threatening to swing the stage supports straight over, the four-piece are instantly heavier live – and better for it. “Manchester!” frontman Matt Thomson screams, decked out in a Pale White t-shirt for a nod to the Edinburgh supports, “We love you and we’re gonna have a fucking good night!”.
It feels like a lifetime ago since ‘Millions (The Party)’ was released from 2015’s Don’t You Wanna EP – but with a mosh pit threatening to take over the whole room, there’s no worry of the anyone forgetting. The stadium chorus of ‘Ultraviolet’ has always been a treat live – and with both lager and crowdsurfers being flung about, tonight is no different.
Exploding into ‘Little Something’ sees an unexpected inflatable shark thrown onto the stage, much to Thomson’s delight. “You can throw as much shit as you want at us!” he grins, before bursting into the ever brilliant ‘Stay With Me’. For the first time ever, Deaf Institute feels less of a small venue and more like a thousands-strong blistering arena.
It’s not just older material that makes up tonight’s setlist. ‘Burn My Eyes’, from May’s self-titled debut, has an edge of The Hives about it – catchy in a way that sees them embrace a dreampop-style guitar and a slightly more mature sound. When ‘Raindrops’ takes things down a bit – “or as much as an Amazons song can ever take things down” – ‘Nightdriving’ brings things straight back up again, oozing with energy that sees Elliot Briggs channel the bands’ classic rock influences into his bassline.
The pressure of being ‘the next big thing’ can break bands weak at heart. You get the feeling, however, that The Amazons really mean what they play. “We’re from a shit heap called Reading and we formed a band to go on an adventure” Thomson admits in a touching soliloquy. “I’m 23 now and I don’t know where I’m going – and when I’m 43, I bet I won’t know either”. As the climatic chorus of ‘Junk Food Forever’ rolls around, two middle-aged drunk guys, tears streaming for their eyes, put their arms around each other in a tender embrace. I’m not the first one to say that 2017 is the year of The Amazons – and I certainly won’t be the last.
Catch The Amazons at these UK dates this summer:
12 – London – Dingwalls
13 – Reading – Sub89
29 – Live at Leeds
5/7 – Festiball 2017
25/28 – Liverpool Sound City
11 – Isle of Wight Festival
25 – 26 – Reading & Leeds Festival