Hope Of The States, The Open, The Upper Room

Judith Cumming 21/10/2004

From the outset this promised to be an unusual but special gig with the promise of a free b sides CD to celebrate the tour given to the first 50 people who arrived, and a book in which we were all invited to vent our spleen in.

Arriving at the venue I was immediately greeted by the melodic soaring melodies of the Upper Room who have been described by some in the press, as “Keane with guitars”. I feel this description is too glib, and they impressed me for their potential for writing clever rousing songs and the way they involved the crowd in declaring that “Black and White” was dedicated to Newcastle United. Psychedelia and punky guitars were to be next thanks to the Open who seemed to elicit a good response from the crowd but they failed to really impress me.

The level of expectation for the arrival Hope of the States then became a reality as their projection show backing came on. They started with “The Black Amnesias” and a film on the “theory of bombing” underlining that Hope of the States are not fearful of tackling heavy issues. They continued to storm through a set that had everyone jumping to “George Washington” “Nehemiah” and probably more markedly during “The Red The White The Black The Blue”. They previewed two new songs “Red Stars Black Stars” and “Fireworks” although it's fairer to say that the former was the better of two. The highlights for me was the mass singalong during “Enemies/Friends” which ended with Sam Herlihy in the crowd smiling, and this giving me the impression that the band had enjoyed the gig too. Set closer “Static in the Cities” with accompanying black and white cartoon film (the films added an extra dimension to the gig, giving it the feel of a rounded performance) showed us that we had witnessed a band who are so doubtful and hopeful of the world at the same time.. but who are brilliant live and to be cherished in a live setting