Review: Augustines at The Roundhouse, Camden, 8 December 2014

09 Dec
Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson

Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson

Augustines have come a long way since I saw them in the Hare and Hounds pub in King’s Heath, Birmingham two years ago – yet even then, front man Billy McCarthy shone brightly as he enthused about playing the city which spawned Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, UB40 and Duran Duran. Tonight he, Eric Sanderson and local drummer Rob Allen are playing one of London’s iconic venues and clearly loving every minute of what they do.
It’s hard to be detached or cynical watching an up and coming rock band throwing everything they have into a performance and the sell-out Roundhouse crowd are quick to respond and involve themselves in the raucous sing-alongs instigated by McCarthy’s fist punching salutes.
A brave start to the gig see Augustines open with two slices of their premium material, ‘Headlong Into The Abyss’, the seminal ‘Chapel Song’, then ‘Book of James’ from their debut cut. Part of the joy of this band is McCarthy’s voice, at times high and pure alternating with fragile and insistent. It takes Billy five songs before he chats to the audience and we are clearly watching a work in progress as the band segues from playing 150 capacity music pubs to the bigger venues their music so obviously merits.
The addition of a trumpet player from New York ‘the sleek Greek’ expands and enhances the Augustines sound and it is still amusing to watch the guitar roadie pick up a bass for half a dozen numbers in between trying (and failing) to ensure McCarthy and Sanderson don’t wreck their own equipment.
The initial two thirds of the set is almost entirely songs from ‘Arise Ye Sunken Ships’, a surprise given the strength and difference of the recent ‘Augustines’ follow-up, but a one hour set ends up with a 50 minutes ‘encore’ including ‘Cruel City’, ‘Nothing To Lose But Your Head’ and the sublime ‘Kid You’re On Your Own’ showcasing McCarthy’s wonderful fragile vocal.
This was the biggest gig the band have ever played: ‘I’ve been waiting all my fucking life for this night’ says Billy to apprecaitive cheering and they are clearly destined for greater things. The encore kicked off by a surprise foray into the far balcony to deliver an acapella song before returning to the stage, although obviously contrived it sums up the engagement and enthusiasm which this band brings to the party. Very, very good – and more to come…

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