Live: The Cheap Thrills – Liverpool Academy

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, then you’ll know I like to use the occasional football analogy.  Well tonight I’ll be looking at some of the emerging Merseyside talent.  The youth teams and the under-23s if you like.  If you don’t want to know the score, look away now.

Tonight’s venue is the Liverpool Academy 2.  The headliners are The Cheap Thrills, a band I saw for the first time earlier this year when supporting The Real People.  I warned you then that they had potential.  Now, with talent, hard work, and some interesting marketing techniques (if you bought a ticket on a certain day the band promised to call round personally and deliver your ticket) they have sold out this 550-capacity space. 

Just like at the football, I get there a bit late, and miss the kick-off.  First up are The Jagz and I arrive just in time to catch the last couple of songs in their set.  They have a small but vociferous band of supporters.  They play mid-tempo tunes, with great layered guitar, and vocals delivered with feeling.  I got a sort of Aztec Camera meets The Coral feel from them.  I will look out for them again.  And I promise to be early next time.

Next up are local 5-piece The Sway.  I don’t know about youth team, they look so young they could be a school team.  Age is no barrier to greatness though.  Alexander The Great conquered the known world by the time he was 20.  These boys showed a musical maturity beyond their tender years.  They play a fluid formation up front.  There are three different singers for the first three songs.  Melody is important and there’s a nice blend of electric and acoustic guitar in their music.  I enjoyed their short set and they put me in mind of some of the bands fronted by local legend Mick Head.  Check out their single Step Right.    

There is a definite change of pace with third band of the evening, Sefton quartet The Kairos.  For a start, they have their own walk-on music, Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life. That, and the fact that the band are dressed in a mixture of Berghaus and Adidas tops zipped up to the chin should be enough of a clue for what we are in for.  Some serious northern indie rock and roll.  The Kairos open with their first release Money Mind.  Imagine if the Arctic Monkeys were from Liverpool and wrote a song with the sentiments of Kanye West’s Gold Digger, and you’re getting close to Money Mind.  Sample lyric – ‘Money’s on her mind it’s the only thing that will please her, legging after lads in Missoni wanting their Visa’.  The Kairo’s certainly wear their influences on their sleeves.  You can hear pieces of Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys, and singer/guitarist Tom Dempsey has a vocal style modelled on an amalgamation of Gallagher brothers.  Their fast-paced indie rock dragged most of the stragglers on the periphery of the now packed academy, away from the bars and down to the stage.  An ideal preface for the main event.

Entering the stage to a dub reggae soundtrack and bathed in a haze of red, gold and green light, The Cheap Thrills take their places without a word and go straight into Smile When You Sleep.  There are people on the shoulders of others from the off.  I’m pretty sure one of those people was a band members mum.  The Cheap Thrills are Lewis Pike (guitar and lead vocals), Terry Eaves (Keyboard, guitar, vocals), Danny Fitz (bass) and Anton Eager (drums).  They play energetic, synth-infused, guitar-backed indie rock with a beat that would make a corpse get up and dance.  They have great lyrics too.  My personal favourite sums up a young Liverpool lad’s relationship with family and religion in three succinct lines.  ’I want to reconcile for all that I’ve done, I’m not on speaking terms with Jesus, I can talk to me Ma’, Saint and Sinners.  Lewis Pikes vocals are delivered with passion, belief and just the right amount of scouse drawl.     

Before the second song, the raucous Sentimentality, Lewis makes a vow to the crowd ‘If you lot give 100%, I promise you, I’ll give it you all back’.  He kept his promise.  By the third song, the wonderfully spacey Machine, he was drenched in sweat.  The Cheap Thrills songs are brilliantly crafted.  There’s a solid rhythm which provides the space for the playful keyboard and guitar melodies to weave in and out.  Time Waster and Accident Prone take up a central role as crowd pleasers at the middle of the set.  ‘This one’s for the Ma’s’ declares Lewis as the band play a surprising cover of Angels.

An excellent set, which the ecstatic crowd danced to throughout, was brought to a close with Saint or Sinner, and a song that will undoubtedly become their festival anthem: Codependence.  In a nice touch Lewis Pike dedicated this last song to local music stalwart Tony Butler, who sadly passed away last year. Codependence was a fitting song to end the gig on.  It reaffirmed the contract between band and audience on a night built on mutual support.  

At the end of the day, everyone gave 110 % from the kick-off to the final whistle and got the result they were after.  Are The Cheap Thrills ready for the Premiere League?  On this performance, undoubtedly yes.

Unbelievable Jeff.

Ian Dunphy.                           

Featured Image: Shot By Brodie                      

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