Neon Waltz bring their anthemic indie to Liverpool’s Jacaranda Phase One and Getintothis’ Banjo sees much to admire.
The fact that Neon Waltz exists at all is incredible.
That they are as good as they are is something of a minor miracle.
The path for most bands getting to the stage of releasing their debut album is one that involves getting together with a few of your mates or people you meet at clubs, moving from one band to another and, if you’re lucky, becoming part of a scene with other local bands, getting gigs and supporting each other.
This was not an option for Neon Waltz. Hailing from Thurso, a tiny town at the very tip top of the country with a population of less than 8,000, their story is instead one of a few like-minded souls somehow finding themselves living in close enough proximity to each other and and coming together to create joyous, feelgood music that could, if they wanted, open the world to them.
Under these circumstances, Neon Waltz could be forgiven for perhaps having their horizons set fairly low. For a lot of bands in this situation, it would be enough that they have found each other and can play music together.
Instead, they have, remarkably, managed to transcend all of these circumstances and have come up with something special.
Before Neon Waltz take to the stage, we are treated to Gus Barreteau. Known as the French Scouser after moving here to study at LIPA, Barreteau has a good band with him and a fine voice with an easy falsetto. It is difficult to pigeonhole his music, but if forced to at gunpoint, we would plump for singer/songwriter indie. There is much that is current about his sound and, with the right breaks, it is easy to imagine him reaching a bigger audience and taking the nation’s hearts by storm.
Next up is Jacoba, who take to the stage from the audience. There is charisma and talent here, but their set is heavy with covers and as a result, they come across as more of a hobby band than serious contenders. This is a shame, as they look the part and give the impression that they could do a lot more than this.
Maybe it is early days for Jacoba, and we think it would be wrong to dismiss them just yet. If we were to come across them sometime in the near future when they have written their own set, we have a feeling we could be in for a pleasant surprise. We certainly hope so.
Touring to promote their debut album Strange Hymns, Neon Waltz are attracting a decent sized audience at Phase One for a Sunday night so far from home. They come across as genuine headliners, the quality of their songs shining through immediately.
Their music refracts classic 60s pop through a 90s indie lens, with hints of The Beatles and Stone Roses surfacing now and then. This is not to say they are copyists, Neon Waltz have their own sound and their own style and it is this they bring to the stage.
They have hit upon a rich seam of classic indie melodies and there is an ease and effortlessness about them that is the hallmark of many great bands. Their music is well put together and avoids formula, instead showcasing a knack for good songs, catchy hooks and good old fashioned songwriting skills.
They already have a hardore group of fans and it is easy to see why. Their indie anthems sound epic here and there have their fans joining in and singing along to every word. One slight criticism that can be levelled at them is that they lack a little character on stage. There isn’t much to watch other than a group of guys faithfully performing their songs.
In truth though, this is something that can be easily levelled at many bands, and Neon Waltz have youth on their side. They are still at the ‘paying their dues’ stage and tours like this will hone their stage presence and give them a swagger to match their music.
It is relatively early days for Neon Waltz, but on the strength of tonight’s performance, they have the ability to take their songs and themselves far from their hometown and into the hearts of the nation.
Pictures by Getintothis Courtney Hughes