The Dawn Chorus
Live (Chris Bath / Leptany / Openroom)

As if the heatwave hadn’t reduced everybody to a dried husk already, the packed out Unit 22 in Southampton supplied new heights to the hot season. Spare a thought then, for the bands that had to endure the kebab-cooking stage lights.

Chris Bath was first up, playing a set of acoustic songs with jagged guitar and soaring vocals. The tempo had a tendency to slow down and speed up at will, which was a bit distracting in the first song, but worked well in the slow-verse, fast-chorus of the second. With the crowd warming up to his performance, Chris had to deal with a broken guitar before he could continue and coped admirably, half-inching a guitar from another band and bouncing back into his performance.

A few more rhythm ideas would add a lot to the set, but Chris is clearly a developing singer/songwriter that could be one to watch in the future.

While things were changing over, I made a dash for the loo and headed for one of the silver cubicles. Now I’m not a particularly heavy chap, but I felt clinically obese while trying to squeeze into the tiny-box of a toilet and, rather embarrassingly, I couldn’t get out of the way of the door in order to close it. The problem was solved somewhat by some balancing and leaning which was all memorized for the outward-squeeze. After all this effort, I had to exit the toilet in a suspiciously sweaty state and make my way to a quiet shadowy corner to nurse my dented pride.

Thankfully, Leptany started their set instantaneously and I was allowed to shift my mind on to other things. This was a series of driving rock songs that very much followed in the footsteps of the Foo Fighters. It was a bit tough to separate the originals from the covers with some very familiar moments appearing throughout the set. The first song was the best of the bunch, courtesy of some great bass playing. However, the main area for improvement is the drums, which were the source of most of the mistakes.

Openroom were up next with a singer who looked a little like Bruce Springsteen and songs that sounded like The Doors, Soundgarden and Stiltskin. The bouncy tempo and muddy guitars played host to a slurred vocal that turned words like ‘you’ into ‘yoo-way-uh’ on a regular basis, however this vocal style suited the music rather well!

Headliners, The Dawn Chorus, kicked off a stunning collection of folk-indie-rock songs with a gutsy Zutons-style swagger and gradually got better and better with each tune accompanied by some natural lighting, courtesy of an electrical storm.

Some of the lyrics verged on country – ‘the bath tub’s full up with blood – if it’s not your fault it’s mine’ being a good example. Lyrics like this need a good delivery and the screwed-up-eye expression of the emotional lines demonstrated that sufficient effort was being ploughed into the performance.

Each song was a very individual composition, fitting into their general style without stretching any particular idea too thin. However, two songs in particular deserve special mention. The first, ‘Something’s Changed’ popped up just four songs into the set, combining The Ordinary Boys and Gomez. The second, and my absolute favourite, was ‘Act of God’, a massive song with an unusual melody and absolutely huge chorus.

The Dawn Chorus put in a heart-burstingly good performance and I’m utterly convinced that I’ll be seeing them again very soon.

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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