David Jakes is not your conventional frontman. During live shows, the Lonely the Brave frontman decides to shy away from the spotlight, positioning himself towards the back/side of the stage. Not that this makes him any less captivating onstage, though; on the contrary, Jakes may well be one of the most talented and intriguing frontmen in the UK right now. His tenderly emotional voice, combined with his band’s eclectic prowess, stands at the forefront on everything Lonely the Brave do. Last night the band, together with Brighton’s Black Peaks, played the penultimate show of their current album cycle at Amsterdam’s Melkweg. Read on for more.
Brighton outfit Black Peaks had the first opportunity to impress an almost-sold out Melkweg, with frontman Will Gardner enthusiastically telling All Things Loud after the show that “Amsterdam is one my favourite places to play”. That he enjoyed it was clear to see, as Gardner spent the majority of his half hour onstage careering back and forth between members, acting almost possessed. They’re yet to release their debut album (which comes out next year), however standout track Glass Built Castles did give an exciting insight into what we can expect. Pulsating snares and monstrous riffs intertwined with one another as Gardner brutally powered his way through the track. A slower verse, underpinned by jangly guitars and a more rhythmic bassline, preceded an anthemic chorus full of chugged guitars and Gardner’s ferocious growl. Over the course of thirty minutes, Black Peaks, who are back next month with John Coffey, proved that they are one of the most exciting new bands around today.
Lonely the Brave, who emerged in 2014 with fantastic album The Day’s War, took to the stage for what was their penultimate show of this album campaign. It’s been a long one, and Holland is the last country to receive the band (for no less than 3 shows) before they dive back into the studio for a hibernation period. Kings of the Mountain’s subtle build-up and slight rhythmic groove opened the show, with Jakes positioning himself just ahead of drummer Gavin Edgeley’s right side. “We’ve not got far to go” sang Jakes, this lyric ringing more true than anything else he sang during the hour-long show. As the track’s huge chorus spiralled and echoed through the Melkweg’s Oude Zaal, popular track Trick of the Light followed in rousing fashion. Here, guitarist Mark Trotter took it upon himself to be the central nucleus of Lonely the Brave, a task he carried out for the whole show. Frontman Jakes may not be the onstage focal point, yet the band around him make up for this and place the focus clearly on the music. There are no gimmicks or additions to the band’s live show which are supposed to make it ‘exciting’, it’s purely about the show and nothing else. Hitting the crowd with successful single Backroads, it became instantly clear that Lonely the Brave aren’t afraid to pull their big shots out of the bag early on. Backroads’ pulsating bassline, courtesy of Andrew Bushen, underpins the track nicely as both Trotter and fellow guitarist Ross Smithwick help from its base. “If you be the sky, then I’ll be the bird” sang Jakes as his vocals soared, with every voice in the room singing back at him.
Over the course of the evening, the band performed four songs from their as-yet-untitled second studio album, the first of which being Boxes. As Trotter put it to All Things Loud earlier in the evening, the second album will “sound like us, but in a way you’ve never heard Lonely the Brave before”. If Boxes’ riffs and wailed vocals are anything to go by, then Trotter is spot on. Deserter followed, utilizing fuzz-laden bass and an overall more demure tone than what came before it. Jakes sounds defeated, his vocals darker and more supressed than usual. New track Radar followed, before Science (taken from their 2015 reissue The Day’s War: Victory Edition) slowed down proceedings slightly. As the track hit its halfway point, everything fell into place and the whole band came together for a euphoric instrumental jam. Once Jakes’ vocals re-entered the frame, it sounded like one massive eulogy. “I’m lost, just like a captain” he sang, his voice underpinned by Trotter’s wailed responses. Fellow reissue track (and summer single) River, River sounded more upbeat in its delivery, utilizing happier guitar lines and more hopeful verses. Jakes sounds pleased here, his band effortlessly underpinning him as he sings of black holes. “Push out your lungs, show that you care” declared the frontman, before Control sped up proceedings even more. Once again, Bushen’s bass is what holds the whole track together as fiery distortion (and Edgeley’s speedy percussion) and huge choruses intertwine.
Two new tracks, Dust & Bones and Diamond Days, followed, the latter building on the more anthemic elements from The Day’s War and making them 10x more grandiose. It made way for The Blue, The Green, which closed the main set. It’s by far Lonely the Brave’s best track, making use of slower instrumentation and an absolutely monstrous vocal delivery from Jakes. “I wanna know what it’s like, so I can feel it inside” sang the frontman as 650 loud voices joined him in his vocalizations. As the song builds-up, it becomes very evident that this is a song made for crying along to whilst you wave your arms around in the air (hopelessly). As the song came to an absolute belter of a close, the band left no prisoners and only waited 20 seconds to return for an encore. Set closer Black Saucers ensured that the show ended on an upbeat note, with ringing feedback echoing through the venue as Lonely the Brave saluted an energetic-but-tired crowd. In a way, last night’s show is a victory. A victory of the last two years of touring. A victory of successful debut album The Day’s War. A victory of everything Lonely the Brave have achieved within one record. We’re not sure when we can expect album 2, but upon arrival it’s going to hit us harder than anything else will.
All Things Loud spoke to guitarist Mark Trotter and drummer Gavin Edgeley ahead of the show. The result of this discussion will be available very, very soon.