Two years ago, when Palma Violets last took to the Dutch stage, the band only managed to fill half of the 750-capacity room. Last night, with a new record to their name, the Lambeth quartet had another go at the same room (Amsterdam’s Melkweg Oude Zaal), disappointingly shifting only 148 tickets ahead of the show. This doubled to around 300 by the time the band took to the stage, but it certainly did put a damper on the evening’s mood. Read on for a full live review.
Taking to the stage just after 9pm, the band put on an 18-song set which drew from debut album 180 and this year’s follow up, Danger in the Club. Opening the show on recent deluxe track Five Gold Rings, it became instantly clear that those who were in the crowd were there to have good time. It only took the band two songs for the first pit to erupt, with 2013’s Rattlesnake Highway being the perfect moment for this explosion of energy. Co-frontmen Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson were on top of their game as per usual, with bassist Jesson taking it upon himself to bound about stage energetically. Equally upbeat new track Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better (On the Beach) demonstrated the equally raucous yet more bombastic sound of new album Danger in the Club, before recent single English Tongue made for the first sing-a-long anthem of the evening. For almost the whole show, the middle of the small floor was reserved for a mosh pit which, at times, didn’t even seem totally necessary. English Tongue’s 2013 equivalent, We Found Love, encompassed “la la la” choruses and anthemic riffs, with an ending big enough to put your arm around a mate and chuck your arms in the air. It was followed quickly by Matador, which flittered between faster segments and long, drawn-out verses. “Matador, I’ve seen your face before” sang Fryer thoughtfully, with keyboardist Peter Mayhew looking like he was out of it for the most of the show. His keyboards on record are very audible and form an integral part of the music, yet last night his keyboard seemed almost inaudible and, at times, unfortunately void. Step Up for the Cool Cats (which saw Jesson jump into the crowd and orchestrate a “sit-down”) was one of the few moments in the show which made good use of Mayhew’s keys, before set highlight Best of Friends made for a euphoric moment. Being the Palma’s breakthrough track, it was almost inevitable that it’d receive such a great reaction. “I wanna be your best friend, I don’t want you to be my girl” declared Jesson over grungy chords, pounding drums and fuzzy bass. The mosh pits here were electric, with the endless surge of people not seeming to stop. It’s not exactly similar scenes to their 2013 show (which, on a Saturday, drew a hefty English contingent), but it’s still pretty rowdy compared to most shows. Walking Home (which wasn’t on the setlist) slowed down the pace a bit, utilizing wailed vocals and catchy basslines in achieving its end goal.
Last of the Summer Wine’s drowsy synth intro and glorious guitars made for what was eventually the craziest moment of the evening – Johnny Bagga Donuts. It’s by far one of the best songs in the band’s back catalogue, and live it has an extra sense of life injected into it. Following this, the band took a couple of minutes out for a breather in the shape of The Jacket Song. Jesson was on acoustic guitar duties here, with Fryer taking the bass whilst a roadie played his guitar. The slow moment was gone in an instant, being swooped away by the pub rock of Danger in the Club. This song is basically the epitome of everything that Palma Violets do well, including chaotic choruses, massive riffs and a sense of youthful euphoria. The band’s sole roadie also took it upon himself to pull off a killer harmonica solo during the bridge, which received huge cheers from the crowd. Tom the Drum followed, making for another crazy pit moment by means of garage-y riffs and Will Doyle’s pounding percussion. Penultimate main set track Chicken Dippers took a slight step back, although this only lasted until the brash and abrasive mid-section moments of madness. The main set came to a close on unreleased song Ratway Rock City, which was in a similar vein to their old covers of The Nasties’ Invasion of the Tribbles. As the band left the stage, people pushed forward to the front of the stage and awaited the band’s inevitable return. They returned for a two-song encore which started on All the Garden Birds’ catchy refrain, before somewhat abruptly ending the evening on 14. Usually, the band always tack on the powerful Brand New Song (which makes out part of the track on 180), yet last night they subtly and swiftly played the track and left the stage. This was probably the lowest moment in the set, especially as nobody got an actual sense of the show really being over. However, after 80 minutes onstage, the show had finally come to an end. Although the show was definitely very energetic and successful, there was a distinct lack of Danger in the Club’s highlights appearing throughout the show. Indie smash hit Gout! Gang! Go! and the doomy Peter & the Gun both didn’t feature, nor did album opener Hollywood (I Got It). With these songs included in the show (and the likes of The Jacket Song or 14 being discounted), you could say that it would’ve been far more successful and exciting. Let’s hope that by the time Jesson and co. return to Holland, they’ll be able to fill out a bigger venue and put on a show that well and truly reflects their abilities. Jack Parker