Courage My Love / The Flapper, Birmingham | 21st of November

Courage My Love / The Flapper, Birmingham | 21st of November

Canadian synth rockers, Courage My Love headline Birmingham for the first time, bringing a sound that is not quite associated with a venue like the basement of The Flapper, but rather a sound that would be better suited for the opening slot of Paramore in the arena across the canal. The line-up tonight includes alt-rockers The Prophets and the eclectic rock outfit, Chapter and Verse.

First to take to the stage are three-piece alt-rockers The Prophets, who reveal that they will be using that name for only a few more days as they will become Everything Aside. The female fronted band have some nice melodies, although quite repetitive, and quite jarring breakdowns that seem to be quite erratic and all over place at times. They are talented and confident, bringing energy to a dead room. They will gain fans from this tour, but the rest of the bands on the bill seem to be a cut above in terms of song writing.

The main support for the evening come in the form of chaotic alt rockers, Chapter and Verse. As their set begins, the band burst with energy with melodic vocals and interesting instrumentals that are comparable to likes of Press To Meco or Arcane Roots. The frontman, Josh, has a great voice that when coupled with the Drummer’s harmonies adds layers to their sound and is quite impressive at times. Although Chapter and Verse have big choruses and regular breakdowns, they finish their set with a monumental throw down that forced me to restrain myself from punching the nearest person directly in the face.

Finally, the headline act, Courage My Love take to the stage and begin with Animal Heart taken from their latest album ‘Synesthesia’ which gets nearly every song played during the set. Instantly visual and audio don’t quite match up, the three piece are seen to be playing guitar, bass and drums and, although the latter two are heard quite well, the guitar is drowned out by the synth heavy backing track that is present throughout the entire set. I feel that that this was a missed opportunity. The band sounded great, but sounded so similar to the record that it became quite a disengaging experience in a venue like The Flapper. Alternatively, they could have toned down the synth in favour of a heavier guitar which would have made for an authentic sound. Instead, I couldn’t help feeling like I was listening to the album through the PA system.

What was interesting about the configuration of the band was that throughout the set and in between songs, lead singer/guitarist, Mercedes Arn-Horn would swap the guitar for keyboard while bassist, Brandon would drop the bass for a guitar which only made for a more synthetic sound (pun intended).

Regardless the band continue through ‘Synesthesia’ rattling off hits: Walls, Stereo, and Need Someone which has a feel that could be heard on the latest Paramore record. They only delve into their back catalogue twice in the form of Kerosene and Dark Wood, Dark Water which have slightly less polished sound and shows that potential of a less synth-y set.

The crowd aren’t particularly energetic; opting for sing along instead of jumping around with the band. I think the vibe of room can be summed up with the set-up for the encore. The band leave the stage after Dark Wood, Dark Water leaving drummer, Phoenix Arn-Horn left on the microphone behind her kit saying “We could play a few more if you make some noise! I’m sure they’ll come back on.” This is met with a tepid response and Mercedes, along with Brandon, come back on stage: resulting in the most authentic, real-sounding song of the night, Drowning which had a happy medium of synth and guitar then finally Tough Love.

This band is very popular across the pond and they have evolved their sound from the pop-punk that would be associated with a basement show. However, Courage My Love have sound that would be more in line with a PVRIS or a Paramore. This is more appropriate in a bigger room where the synth can be better appreciated with added layers of instruments.

 

Setlist:

Animal Heart

Walls

Kerosene

Skin and Bone

Love Hurts

Two Headed Monster

Never Gonna Change

Need Someone

Dirt

???

Stereo

The Year I Disappeared

Dark Wood, Dark Water

ENCORE

Drowning

Tough Love

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