Lonely The Brave [Live]


Signs behind the upstairs bar of the Lexington inform punters that ear plugs are available on request. It's comforting to have the option when faced with the sheer power of Cambridge quintet Lonely The Brave, whose emotive alt-rock has won many plaudits over the summer. Tonight the band stand tall, in black. Singer David Jakes lurks at the back of the stage next to drummer Gavin Edgeley – a stage ritual that has long been a feature of the band's live shows, due to the singer’s shyness. Tonight the band play the entirety of their debut album The Day’s War to a sellout crowd, confirming their status as a refreshing addition to alternative music.

Support band Mooseblood seem like an odd pairing with the headliners. Drawn out instrumental sections and melodies that remind of recent Blink 182 make for a strange mix. There’s little else to say about these guys.

Lonely The Brave come on stage to a wall of pre-recorded guitar effects. It’s tense. The band kicks in and from thereon in the swell of guitar-driven mature emo rarely lets up. The band excel at building layer upon layer of emotion, and on the title track of latest EP Backroads, our hearts are moved to a tearjerking place between shadow and light. As Jakes sings "I'll be the sky and you'll be the bird," his voice mounting in power, mass goosebumps ensue.

And yet it's not just the soaring choruses where Jakes mesmerises. During quieter moments (and I should stress quieter) his words crack as he anxiously spills; he exhales through the end of lines, his breath dancing with the reverb with a dark mystical quality. The rest of the band compensate for Jakes' shyness with an exuberance that is perhaps a little too light-hearted. They mouth along to the words, clearly enjoying themselves. It must be difficult not to, playing music this enthralling, but their post-rock stage formation could perhaps lend more to a deathly shoegazing silence across the front as Jakes' melodies emanate from behind.

Around the mid-set point, singles 'Black Saucers' and 'Deserter' are aired. The former, a frantic yet full-bodied ode to an extra-terrestrial encounter (a metaphor for alcoholism I'd wager), is inspiring. It's rare to see such energy delivered with such maturity. Jakes' line, "We sat silent in the forest, we stood waiting for those demons," ends with his characteristic expulsion of breath, as if his lungs themselves are the source of his inquietude. 'Deserter' is let down by a lack of dynamics and does not quite live up to the record's post-apocalyptic brooding, though many are moved to join Jakes in the songs culmination - "I'll see clear and I'll see that I want you." He cuts a worrying figure at the back, bottle of wine grasped in hand and eyes to the floor between lines.

Judging by this evening, Lonely The Brave are keeping themselves very much on the rock side of things. With Jakes' poetic ability it's clear that a wider esoteric appeal is achievable. Tonight though, the sheer volume and power of the show suggests that recent support gigs with Deftones and Zico Chain have had an influence. It is vital that the 5-piece do not obscure Jakes' mastery with an overabundance of noise because his unique voice alone could conquer cities.

By Tom Phelan

'Backroads' By Lonely The Brave.