The Bravery at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
You have to feel a bit sorry for The Bravery. Massively hyped in late 2004 and 2005, they were one of the pioneers of the sound that has come to currently dominate much of modern popular music, but where have they been? They had a top ten album in the UK in 2005 and then… well, nothing.
They’ve apparently released two albums since then; and I’d heard nothing. No remixes, no plays on alternative radio nor any blog/online support. This should not be. When I mentioned to friends that I was seeing The Bravery the most common initial reaction was either surprise that they still existed then even more surprise that they were touring. NME has described this tour as a comeback, apparently to support a new single and album. The Bravery had fallen off the map, but can these intimate gigs, despite their small nature, bring them back? Probably not, but they are an example of a band with some powerful, still popular songs and a strong stage presence.
The venue suited the band’s sound and staging (if there could be said to be any) perfectly. There’s no drama, no light show, just the admittedly gorgeous and well dressed band with their instruments; the music is the focus. They opened with two tracks from their eponymous first album, Unconditional and No Brakes. After over six years of touring these tracks they sounded perfect, the band tight and not a note out of place.
Despite the crowd’s seeming unfamiliarity with the tracks from later albums the energy level never really dropped, the venue’s limited size not allowing the enthusiasm of the crowd to dissipate. There were occasional semi-lulls but these were always forgotten with the next song. They set a cracking pace, playing 16 tracks in a little over an hour and twenty minutes. Their first album (and judging from the crowd’s reaction the one most came to hear) was a mixture of frenetic post punk/new wave party music and the packed venue amplified this vibe.
The final song of the main set was their signature track An Honest Mistake and it is still an amazing song. The crowd sung along, knowing every word and the band seemed genuinely touched (literally, in the case of some of the more aggressive female audience members). After a short break of less than a minute they jumped into the encore: one new song and then finishing with Fearless for a final singalong from their first album. The band’s appreciation for their reception was shown by their willingness to hang around afterwards and sign autographs, with no attitude.
If you hadn’t heard of The Bravery before and had somehow wandered into this gig, you would be impressed. The support acts were also excellent: Royal Chains with a similar sound to the most familiar Bravery tracks and occasionally early Interpol, and Transfers, a band who may have coasted slightly on their singer and frontman’s charm, bringing to mindThe Killers when they first broke.
Is this a comeback? Yes and no. The Bravery hadn’t gone away but they had almost been forgotten. This limited club tour won’t bring back the hype of 2005 but they are worth seeing and the energy and songs show that this band is more than capable of being just as successful as they once were. Go and see them live while you can before they only have an appearance on the Twilight soundtrack as a legacy.
Review and photos by JonJon