Live Review: The Academic (Good Karma Club Tour) – The Garage, London – 19/04/18

Over two years since its inception, Abbie McCarthy’s Good Karma Club continues to grow in size and prestige. The BBC Radio One and BBC Introducing presenter has seen her regular new music night host the likes of Pale Waves, The Amazons and The Sherlocks.

Tonight, the second night of a seven date tour alongside Irish four-piece The Academic, brings Good Karma Club to The Garage in London.

With The Academic’s debut LP Tales from the Backseat reaching number one in the Official Irish Albums Chart, the band have built up a fervent base of loyal fans both at home and in the UK. That’s evident early on as The Garage rapidly fills up with excited young fans and the merch stall remains ever-populated from minute one.

Before the Irish quartet take to the stage, London-based Sea Girls impress with a pristine set. Their performance peaks with tracks “Call Me out” and “Eat Me Whole”, the title track from their 2018 EP. Accompanied by a brief foray into the audience by frontman Henry Camamile, both songs are well received and bring their set to a very solid close.

As Abbie McCarthy introduces The Academic to the stage, the full room feels like a sauna in certain areas following the 28-degree heatwave in London. Met on stage with a steaming wall of screams from a panting young crowd, the excitement surrounding this band is tangible from the beginning.

“I never thought we’d have a room this full”, exclaims a visibly thankful frontman Craig Fitzgerald. But after a whirlwind few months that has seen them become one of the most popular young bands in Ireland, there’s a confidence and assurance about The Academic that comes only with relative success.

Early songs from Tales from the Backseat‘s “Permanent Vacation” and “Bite My Tongue” bring the crowd to life early on, marking the beginning of a spotlessly sweet set filled with catchy hooks and tributes to teenhood. Tracks from their Loose Friends EP (2016) and single “Mixtape 2003” go down extremely well as fans display their dedication to the band’s older material.

Closing renditions of “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “Bear Claws” brings their set to a jubilant climax. The Academic x Good Karma Club tour looks set to confirm the band’s widespread appeal to fans across the UK, with further dates coming in Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester. The reaction from tonight’s audience is a good sign for a group that have already seen so much success in Ireland. Seeing their debut LP chart at number one must have been something special, but sending a full room of merch-cladden young Londoners home dripping with sweat must be just as satisfying.


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